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What next for national football?

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What happened on Tuesday on the local football scene has led to further worries that Zimbabwe might find itself without a national football team by the end of the year.

The fairy tale reads: “A botched attempt to train at the National Sports Stadium, the Pandhari disaster, a failed trip to Mozambique and the 0-0 draw away in Maputo, following on the heels of a 1-0 loss to Guinea”.

And just when we thought Zifa was hallucinating on the issue of a third force disrupting the Warriors, we saw the various goal-scoring chances put to waste by our strikers in the two matches and coach Rahman Gumbo’s story line that politics has tainted the game followed our revelation of an unsavoury liaison between some players and suspected members of the Asiagate match-fixing scam simply compounds the sense of the wheels coming off. It’s sad, to say the least and judging by the way things are going, what result can we expect against Burundi this Sunday? Yes, we can be optimistic, but what we need is to be knocked out from both the World Cup and the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations race so that we can start from scratch.

The issue of match-fixing has been hanging over Zimbabwe since 2006 and the damage it did before an investigation was done is certainly too large to be undone in this short space of time.

The other major hindrance has been the powerless Sports and Recreation Commission’s failure to take action over a long period and one wonders why they are really in existence. The bigger animal, the Ministry of Education, Art, Sports and Culture, is in an even tighter predicament.

Perhaps the formation of a stand-alone Sports ministry would be helpful as that would be empowered to intervene in such crises. We should not fear Fifa’s threat that if there is government interference, we will be banned. In fact, for Zimbabwe right now, being banned is actually a good option if we are serious about starting from the beginning.

As such, football has been left to the vultures to do as they please at the expense of the real football-loving fans.

The football fan is hard to please; he does not accept excuses or diversions, he wants results and as long as a national team is regarded as the flagship of the nation, then they will continue to demand results.

Emotionally, the Warriors are not in a position to win this Sunday, but by God’s miracle they can still win. But the odds are heavily stacked against them in view of what has been going on in the last two weeks. On Tuesday, Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke — the man in charge of Brazil 2014 — was in great spirits after the second round of the qualifiers, stating boldly that the qualifiers were a great advertisement for the tournament in two years’ time.

Clearly, he was not including Zimbabwe in that “great advertisement” because for us, there is nothing great. Instead there is everything to be ashamed off: Total embarrassment which leaves us hiding behind the barrel of a pen.

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