Tomorrow Zambia — the pride of Southern African football at the moment — trot into Stade d’Angondje, Libreville, to face Ivory Coast in the 2012 African Cup of Nations football final while chaos is the name of the game in Zimbabwe.
Yes, Zambia, a country that is separated from Zimbabwe by the mighty Zambezi River, are on the verge of making history by becoming the second southern African nation to win the continental prize after South Africa in 1996.
To think that this is the same Zambian team that was outplayed by Zimbabwe in the build-up to the finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon invites more questions than answers for the local game. The Warriors beat the same Zambia side in Gabon 2-0 at Rufaro Stadium in August last year.
If we can beat a team that can reach the final of an African competition, then what is the problem with our game?
We sincerely believe that we can’t look no further than maladministration by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa). The result against Zambia reflected that we have talented players, but the lacking ingredient to take the country forward are genuine and competent football administrators.
While Zambia had a fair share of problems when Football Association of Zambia (Faz) president Kalusha Bwalya faced a revolt, but it was the swift manner in which the northern neighbours handled the problem and immediately produced results on the field of play.
In juxtaposition, we have a Zifa board that drags football challenges on and on until cows come home. We have had the Asiagate issue hanging around us for some time and we think the sooner it is concluded the better.
It’s a shame Zifa president Cuthbert Dube and his chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze will be rubbing shoulders with Bwalya in the same VIP box in Libreville pursuing different missions even if they are neighbours.
Dube is in Gabon to try and coerce Fifa president Sepp Blatter to release $2 million for his cash-strapped association while Bwalya will be cheering on his team in the final — a result of hard work and good planning.
What is it that Zambia possess that we don’t have here? Zambia is not Brazil or one of these rich European nations. They are equally poor and are thin on resources like us.
While we applaud Zifa’s relentless pursuit of an anti-corrupt environment, some of their decisions seem to us untimely. We are fully behind the new technical teams that have been seconded to the national teams, but we wonder if the timing will not affect preparations for the Afcon qualifier match against Burundi at the end of the month.
We believe the banning of over 80 players and the technical team led by Norman Mapeza should have been done a long time ago so that their successors could have more time to plan. As it is, interim coach Rahman Gumbo has been thrown into the deep end and we naturally sympathise with him.
Gumbo will not be able to field his best possible squad and juggle around new and old Warriors players. We are not against their decisions, but timing.
As has become the norm, Zifa seems to be enjoying rocking the boat before crucial matches. Remember the Tom Saintfiet saga?
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