THE national men’s football and cricket teams are the pride of Zimbabwean sport besides being the most supported in the country. That means when things go wrong, they attract a lot of attention, of which most of the times depending on how things pan out, there is a chorus of contestation.
It is for this reason that over the last few weeks, the two teams have claimed acres of space in the mainstream media with a lot of negative headlines.
The social media alike has been awash with discussions on the Warriors’ poor show at the Cosafa Cup, where they played four matches — lost two and drew the same number before they were sent packing in the early vetting stages of the regional tournament.
With such a bad run, the spotlight has naturally fallen on Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušić, whose dismal record is a single win in 12 matches since he took over the reins early last year. The coach himself has come up with one excuse after another each time he presides over a bad outcome. What a terrible loser!
There have been loud calls for Logarušić to be relieved of his duties as doubts over his pedigree emerged, especially looking ahead at the World Cup qualifiers starting in September and the Africa Cup of Nations finals in January.
What has surprised many is that Zifa seems reluctant to get rid of Logarušić despite his struggles. Though Zifa have promised to review the national football team’s performance at the Cosafa Cup, judging by the tone of one member of the Zifa board in charge of national teams, Bryton Malandule, the football mother body is unlikely to take any drastic action.
When a national team produces bad results, it affects our national pride and fans are within their rights to vent their anger against bad management by the coaches. In any case, a national association’s success or failure is judged by the national team’s success.
When the national team is failing, as has been the case, it simply means that the Zifa board led by Felton Kamambo is also failing in its task. It is our belief that Zifa will take corrective action immediately and get the national football team to perform better again.
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Zimbabwe should take a leaf from Zambia’s Football Association, which sacked their coach Milutin Sredojević, simply known as Micho, soon after the team was eliminated from the Cosafa Cup.
The national cricket team, like the Warriors, has also been struggling and has become a subject of ridicule following a string of poor results.
They have played five matches against Bangladesh across all formats and by yesterday, had lost all. Losing is part of sport, but when a national cricket team of Zimbabwe’s repute and calibre loses every match against Bangladesh on home soil, alarm bells should ring loudly.
Like Zifa, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) have an expat coach, Lalchand Rajput, who claims a huge sum of money in salaries and allowances, yet the results on the ground are not commensurate with such expenditure.
ZC could save up quite a lot of money by employing a local coach, who can bring better results, while they can use some of the money on developing better players.
One of the reasons that the team is struggling is that the pool of selection is very small and there isn’t enough competition for places.
The priority should be in developing young talent instead of spending a fortune on a coach who has failed to improve the team’s prospects.
Zimbabwe has got a lot of former players that can guide the team to better performances. We urge ZC to act swiftly to improve the results that the national team is producing, especially considering that chances of clinching an automatic World Cup place for 2023 are slowly slipping away, while Rajput’s bank account continues to swell.