The Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) is usually a learning experience for newcomers and, once in a while, visitors.
It is usually not easy for lesser football nations to arrive and make an impact.
The Warriors learnt the hard way ending as the laughing stock of Group B at the 2017 edition, if not the whole tournament.
Nobody else, but Zimbabweans and Warriors diehards gave the Warriors a chance.
How Group B panned out was the general expectation, except that Algeria were a big letdown, as they finished with just a point better than Zimbabwe whose only positive result was a draw.
But what made the Warriors a laughable lot is the confidence they exuded before the tournament, and even declaring themselves the group favourites.
While a postmortem will take place in the next few days over the team’s dismal failure, the truth of it all is that there is no substitute for quality.
The teams that Zimbabwe played against were all quality sides, who draw most of their personnel from top European leagues.
Our best player is Knowledge Musona, who is based in Belgium, but played just over one match having been withdrawn early in the first match following a hamstring injury.
He showed his class and quality in the Tunisia match, but the problem is it’s only him who is at such a lofty level.
Khama Billiat is a good player and he had everyone talking about him after the first match where he gave an electric show with his ball artistry.
But for all his skill, there was no end product.
He leaves the tournament without a goal to his name.
Yet he probably had more chances than any Zimbabwean player.
That some of them were self-made does not give him the licence to miss. His job is to score and if he misses in a one-on-one situation, that failure is no better than that of Cuthbert Malajila in the game against Algeria.
Of course, he has got the potential if he manages to raise his game.
But, we all saw what big players were doing for their teams — Sadio Mane for Senegal, Youssef Msakni for Tunisia as well as Riyad Mahrez for Algeria.
With Musona out, the Warriors missed quality upfront and it’s likely that we would have done better had he played through.
We played against some of the best sides at the tournament and while our team had its shortcomings, the other teams were just too good.
There was a difference in class. You don’t just wake up and find yourself in the best team in Europe, there has to be something special about you.
Those superstars that Zimbabwe came up against are special players and sometimes you have to raise your hands and admit that you have been outdone by a better-equipped team.
It’s good to be brave and say that you can play against anyone, but as long as our best players are drawn from South Africa, chances of making an impact at such tournaments are slim.
Football is everything in Europe and it improves players. South Africa doesn’t, so we just need to come to a point where we draw our Warriors from Europe.
If your quality is not that good, then you need to work the hardest.
In hindsight, we should have played more friendly matches leading up to this tournament.
If Senegal need two matches to polish up, then we probably need 10. You don’t just show up at Afcon and expect to coast along easily. It’s a big tournament, everyone takes it very seriously.
We just didn’t put enough and deservedly reaped nothing.
Our players need to be drilled better.
You can’t make the same mistake in three consecutive matches. In all three matches that the Warriors played, they made slow starts and were caught cold. It’s probably the most disappointing aspect about their showing here.
Losing in the same manner three times in a row is criminal. That part brings coach Kalisto Pasuwa and his technical bench into question. How do you fail to solve one problem in three matches? They should put their hands up and admit failure in that regard.