BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
VETERAN Zimbabwe coach Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu has given a brutal and what could turn out to be a controversial assessment of the Zimbabwe Warriors senior team’s performance at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, saying they lack the spirit to die for their motherland.
The former Highlanders player and coach, who is currently in the Ngezi Platinum technical team set-up, is one of the longest-serving coaches in domestic football, with an uninterrupted career in football spanning 52 years, including 36 as coach.
He has presided over several Premier Soccer League clubs, and has also been part of the national team set-up, where he led the Under-17 side in 1999.
Zulu has been following the performance of the Warriors over the years, including their participation at the Afcon finals, with keen interest.
The Warriors have played in three Afcon finals, but a quarter-final berth has been stubbornly elusive as at one time they bowed out in the first round of the prestigious tournament.
The next edition that will be hosted in Egypt later this month will mark the fourth appearance by Zimbabwe at the finals and they have set themselves a target of at least reaching the
Zulu, however, said he had not seen any improvement in the way the Warriors apply themselves at these big stages and suggested it would be difficult for them to go beyond the first
The veteran coach insisted the Warriors lacked the intrinsic motivation needed when playing for the national team.
“I have been watching them (the Warriors) over the years and while we are happy that they have qualified for the tournament four times now, they lack a fundamental requirement — the
desire to die for the country,” Zulu opined.
“Some countries go far and even win these tournaments not necessarily because they have talented players, but they are prepared to die for the national team shirt and I haven’t seen
that in these Warriors; that fighting spirit, which was there at Highlanders during our time. This is the reason why we have failed to go beyond the group stages all these years we have
participated at the Afcon finals. Unless we have that spirit in our Warriors, I don’t see them going beyond the first round in Egypt.”
The Warriors have played three matches as part of their preparations for the Afcon finals, which kick off in Egypt on June 21 and won 2-0 against Comoros at the Cosafa tournament in
South Africa. Afterwards, the Warriors crashed out of the tournament at the semi-final stage at the hands of Zambia.
They went on to play the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a high- profile friendly last Saturday and shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw. Although Zulu is less impressed, Warriors coach Sunday
Chidzambga, who holds the record of being the first coach to lead them to Tunisia in 2004, is pleased with his charges’ performance, especially after their brave show against Nigeria.
“You don’t stop a good team like Nigeria from scoring if you are not good yourself. This shows that we are going to the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt with high hopes,” Chidzambga said
in his post-match interview.
Zimbabwe get their campaign under way with a clash against hosts Egypt on June 21 before they face off Uganda on June 26. They will then finish their group matches against the
Democratic Republic of Congo on June 30.