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Zifa to blame for defeat

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For us and the Warriors, it is always a case of so near, yet so far.

We seem, all the time, to be presented with the best chances to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations finals, but somehow we do not only get it wrong at the end, but right from the start.

When the Warriors started the 2012 campaign, a major boob was created when Zifa decided to bring in Tom Saintfiet as the head coach and when that failed due to work permit problems, co-coaches Madinda Ndlovu and Norman Mapeza were appointed to handle the Cape Verde Islands match at home. The result was a 0-0 draw, meaning the Warriors needed to beat Cape Verde in the away encounter to ensure qualification. We lost 2-1 and bowed out, when we were just 90 minutes away from the Nations Cup.

Instead of building on that, just like Cape Verde did hence their qualification for Afcon 2013 this weekend, we went out guns blazing for Asiagate, suspended Mapeza, who in turn sued Zifa and banished almost 90 players from national duty.

In came Rahman Gumbo as head coach. With 90 minutes away from the Africa Cup of Nations finals in South Africa next year, Zimbabwe were beaten by Angola amid reports that Gumbo was forced to select players he had not invited to camp.

It seems Cuthbert Dube’s Zifa board has successfully done two things since they came into office in 2010 — prolong a probe into Asiagate and fail to adequately prepare the national team to qualify for the 2012 and 2013 finals. They must be ashamed of such a record and in such a short space of time. And we hope the first thing this morning is that the final Asiagate report — we mean the final report — is released and this cancer is done away with.

While the disaster is there for everyone to see, the game of chopping and changing coaches must stop. The issue of personalising issues must cease, for we have seen that whenever things go wrong, people do not look at the fundamental Zifa politics at play. This is the time for introspection. We have to find out what went wrong in Luanda and see how we can remedy that. We need to perfect our art for the sake of the future.

The problem lies right on the doorstep of Zifa and the sooner we admit that, the better for our football. We need a system of sustainable development of football across the board and not this last-minute Mzansi90 business that only serves to heap the pressure on the technical team and the players to perform above expectations. While we know corporate support is necessary, the timing was just bad. Where were they all along? Did they just come in at the last minute because Mzansi was closer or did they just want to push their own PR agenda?

And what was all that nonsense of hurriedly clearing players of match-fixing and calling them into camp? We wonder.

Whatever the case, the last few days have been far from edifying.

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