IT was a refreshing sporting weekend for Zimbabwe after the Young Warriors beat Cameroon 1-0 in the All-Africa Games second round, first leg at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday while the Mighty Warriors got an all-important away goal against Ghana.
Despite the odds heavily stacked against the Young Warriors due to shambolic preparations and player problems, they still managed to get that victory and whatever happens in the second leg is for another day.
Although the match is not on the Fifa calendar that could not have stopped any match from being played, and as expected Kalisto Pasuwa did not disappoint as he simply had to do with the material at his disposal.
Sadly, in this case clubs cannot be sanctioned for refusing to release their players.
However, we take great exception to Caps United coach Mark Harrison, who had the audacity to write Zifa telling them he would not release his players.
This purely was an issue that Harrison could have communicated to his team manager, who in turn would then have informed club chief executive Joe Makuvire. It was Makuvire who should have written the letter to Zifa advising of Caps United’s position on the release of the players.
Worse, Caps United owner, Twine Phiri, is also chairman of the Premier Soccer League and sits on the Zifa Board. There is no such protocol in world football that a coach writes a letter to a national association.
Nevertheless, Harrison did come to his senses and made Ronald Pfumbidzayi available for the match.
In the end Pasuwa’s squad was good, but how long will he keep the team together seeing that Zimbabwe is not an attractive destination in terms of football to get friendly matches to keep the boys playing together?
It should be pointed out that the duty will rest on Zifa in putting their house in order. Zimbabwe has missed out on the current international break, but it is hoped that things will be in order for the next window to get a friendly for the Warriors.
The Mighty Warriors lost 2-1 and will be hoping to get that one goal to take them through to the finals when the return leg is played in two-weeks’ time at Rufaro.
We know that Government support will not come, anyway. So Zifa, with their mounting daily problems, have to soldier on and scrap the bottom of the barrel to motivate these players to reach the finals.
Ghana Football Association president Kwesi Nyakatakyi had promised $100 per goal for the Black Queens victory against the Mighty Warriors, but that did not spur them to a resounding win. Still they will get their $200 which they will share in addition to the usual winning bonuses.
Things are tight in Zimbabwe. Companies are folding up and they have little to spare for corporate social responsibility in these tough economic times. The Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture is heavily underfunded, so the burden will still lie with the overstretched Zifa.
Even then, we still believe that Zifa, while working on their administrative blunders that saw Zimbabwe being booted out of the 2018 Russia World Cup preliminary round, will build on this and give the country something to smile about.