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Zifa must learn from Zambia

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The success by Zambia in the just-ended African Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea serves as a big lesson for the disorganised Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) in many ways.

Chipolopolo on Sunday made history by becoming the second southern African country to win the African Cup of Nations after South Africa in 1996. Zambia beat favourites Ivory Coast 8-7 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in 120 minutes.

South Africa won it at home, but Zambias victory is unique in that they won it away from home and it was a fitting tribute to members of the Zambian side who tragically perished in the ocean off Gabon in 1993.

Emotions ran high in the Zambian camp soon after defender Stopilla Sunzu converted the winning penalty as former presidents Kenneth Kaunda and Rupiah Banda joined the team in their moment of triumph. It was a touching moment for the Zambians and indeed the whole of southern Africa. Football can unite people and the region was no exception on Sunday.

But of significance are lessons that should be learnt after the historic achievement by our neighbours. Zambia have shown that proper planning is crucial if one wants to achieve set goals. Zambia did not have millions of dollars, but they did have passion and planning.

Under the stewardship of former African Footballer of the Year Kalusha Bwalya, Chipolopolo have prospered beyond imagination while back home we seem to have a Zifa that is obsessed with scandals at the expense of football development.

The same Zambian team is the one the Warriors beat in a friendly match at Rufaro Stadium last August. Bwalya has been quietly transforming Zambia into a force to reckon with while Zimbabwe is best known on the international arena for the shameful Asiagate. You could clearly see the team spirit in the Zambian side.

On the contrary, it would be very difficult for us to achieve the same with the Warriors with the Asiagate issue hanging over us. It is high time the powers-that-be at Zifa put their house in order and concentrated more on developing talent and achieving results on the field of play than in boardrooms.

We are not saying Zifa must not rid itself of corrupt activities. No. We are saying they must channel more energy into ensuring that the Warriors and other national teams qualify for major tournaments likeAfcon and the World Cup.

Every association in the world has its problems, but they dont put enduring emphasis on those problems. The current Zifa board seems to enjoy dwelling on its setbacks.

The Warriors have a crucial 2013 Afcon qualifier match against Burundi on February 29 and nothing on the ground suggests that we will succeed. Zifa have banned 99 players from the national team and suspended coach Norman Mapeza. An interim technical team led by Rahman Gumbo has been put in place.

Gumbo on Saturday named fringe players for the match against Burundi because he had a poor base to select from. Players like Dickson Choto and Esrom Nyandoro, whose international careers seemed to have ended, found themselves back in the fold. Choto has a proven poor record in Warriors colours while Nyandoro is not having game time at Mamelodi Sundowns.

We all thought the country had moved forward, with the likes of Ovidy Karuru and Khama Billiat emerging, but alas we are back in the woods recycling old war horses who are past their prime.

Zifa president Cuthbert Dube and his team must find time to visit Zambia to learn a thing or two about football administration.

Maybe its time a former player like Kalusha took over at Zifa.

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