Time for Zifa to retire field politics

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AFTER two consecutive failures to make it to the 2012 and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, Zimbabwe has two more years to get things right for the next edition in Morocco.

The draw takes place on March 10 at the next Confederation of African Football (Caf) congress and there is no doubt that we have enough time to start preparations for this adventure.

The success of Zimbabwe’s preparations is mainly based on finances and with failure to get them, it means failure to get friendlies. What has been evident in the past failures is the fact that we have failed to clear the hurdle at the last moment, losing to Cape Verde 2-1 and 2-0 to Angola in devastating fashion. We then fail to build from where we would have left off, preferring to fire coaches without looking at the long term success.

If we had adopted the Cape Verde model and stuck to our coaches even after the failures, we might have played in South Africa in the last edition. While Cape Verde failed to qualify then, they struck to the same team and coach and armed him with funds and friendly matches to put a competitive team together.

Zifa tends to lose focus and is often distracted by issues that do not develop the game. The association is groaning under a
$4 million debt left by successive administrators and has been growing ever since the times of Leo Mugabe, Rafik Khan, Wellington Nyatanga and now Cuthbert Dube.

The solution being proffered is for government and private sector to step in and retire the debt, but this is not the tonic to achieve success. The solution is having a clear strategy with measurable benchmarks; starting from junior football, the lower leagues up to the Premiership. So, as we head towards the 2105 qualifiers, we need to think more about football than of the field politics that has often dominated any football discussion.

We need to ensure that we play competitive friendlies at each Fifa international friendly day and adopt the Zambia strategy — “We play all the time.”

This strategy was started by its FA chief Kalusha Bwalya who believes that even without foreign-based players, preparatory matches are a must to build team spirit, cohesion and a winning mentality. In any case, we have the Chan qualifiers that require the use of locally-based players only and the Cosafa Castle Cup.

Zimbabwe has been given an opportunity to play five matches in the Caribbean and this chance must be taken. It’s an all-expenses paid trip that will assist coach Klaus Dieter Pagels to come up with a strong team for the Chan and Cosafa games in mid-year.

We need to be at these tournaments regularly to show that our football is progressing. We again welcome the launch of the Football Trust, which has taken over Zifa debts and hope they will receive maximum support from Zimbabweans as they bid to raise funds to clear the debt. Let us put our differences aside and work for the common good of the game. We need to play at Afcon 2015, at whatever cost.

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