The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Rahman Survives Axe

ZIFA are insisting that they have not wielded the axe on Rahman Gumbo but have instead asked the coach to present to them a technical report on the Warriors' deemed 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign. The Zifa board met in the capital on Wednesday night and resolved to disband the senior team but only in as far as the players that did duty in the 2012 and 12 Nations Cup qualifiers are concerned.

Despite many people blaming Gumbo and his team's technical shortcomings for the defeat in Angola, Zifa appear to believe that the players should shoulder the bulk of the blame for the back to back doomed campaigns which ended in similar and agonising fashion in Cape Verde last year and Luanda this year.

In asking Gumbo and his technical crew which includes his assistants David Mandigora and Peter Ndlovu to compile a report on the entire campaign beginning with the away game against Burundi in Bujumbura, Zifa gave the coach a stay of execution and instead consulted him on the way forward.

Gumbo appeared to have been swept by the tide at the board meeting but Zifa believe he has a role to play "in a fresh start for the Warriors that would be built around 'younger players'".

Zifa president Cuthbert Dube, flanked by his deputy Ndumiso Gumede, chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze and Women's football boss Mavis Gumbo told a media briefing that the coach was still in his job but would be asked to assemble a new side "of clean and younger players".

A day after the board meeting, Rahman met with Dube, Gumede and Mashingaidze and was reportedly told to compile a report that covers the entire campaign and also make his recommendations on a new start for the Warriors.

After once again failing to qualify for the Nations Cup, the Warriors now want to shift their attention to the resumption of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers as well as the qualifiers for the African Nations Championships scheduled for the same year.

The CHAN tournament is a less prestigious competition where only those players plying their trade in their domestic leagues are eligible to play.

But it is the board's decision to allow Gumbo and his lieutenants a chance to fight another day that will be a major talking point of the media briefing with Zifa insisting that the Warriors' failure was largely to do with performance and the effects of the Asiagate match-fixing scandal.

Dube, who also issued a public apology to the nation over the Warriors' failure to qualify for South Africa 2013, said the local game's character would be measured by its capacity to rise from the ashes from the Asiagate storm, corruption and poor governance. The Zifa president also acknowledged that his leadership could not continue to blame previous administrations without proffering solutions to the problems rocking the national game.

"The mark of a man is found more in his ability to rise from the ashes than his ability to delicately remain perched on the Ivory tower. The resilience of our troubled game shall be measured in terms of our ability to rise from the ashes of the Asiagate scandal, bad governance, unbridled corruption and failure to qualify and win major tournaments.

"The nation is in mourning after the manifestation of the impact of the Asiagate scandal and the failure by our flagship team to qualify for the 2013 African Cup of Nations jamboree to be hosted by neighbouring South Africa. Indeed we are in mourning.

"Zimbabwean football has been crying for a panacea to the various ailments it has suffered from. Expecting a nation whose football teams were traded for thirty pieces of silver in Asia to qualify for major tournaments would be no better than expecting a barren woman to conceive.

"Four years down the road Zimbabweans were under the illusion that we had a senior team for men and it only took 2012 and 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifiers to demonstrate our delusion de'grandeur . . . we were living a lie and the big lie was unmasked in Angola on 14th October 2012 when our senior team collapsed like a deck of cards inside the first six minutes.

"Our hearts broke into smithereens, our dreams were shattered and all hope for success vanished into thin air. We apologise to the whole of Zimbabwe for the failed campaign. We are sorry," Dube said.

The Zifa boss, however said the national game needed a fresh impetus and that his association could not continue to cry over spilt milk.

"Zimbabwe football should cast away the weeping willow and boldly rebuild the future national teams. Why should we continue apportioning blame on those who came before us and left a trail of mass destruction without proffering solutions?

"If we do not open a new chapter for our game's revival and growth the future generations shall hold us equally culpable for the holocaust that our game experienced. Let us move on and chart a new course for a new football dispensation".

That dispensation, Dube said, includes retiring the Warriors who took part in the failed campaigns.

But the Zifa president was also quick to clarify that the coach could recall all the players he feels still have a role to play in the national team but with the bias also being given to the younger players.

If Zifa's announcement is anything to go by then the board decision literally closes the door on the Warriors careers of such players like Esrom Nyandoro, Marlon Jani, Tinashe Nengomasha and Takesure Chinyama even if they may have wanted to continue serving the senior team.

But there seems to be still room for such players like Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, Lincoln Zvasiya, Ariel Sibanda, Quincy Antipas, Denver Mukamba and Archford Gutu who had just emerged from the Under-23 side to form the core of the Warriors in the last two years.

"We have resolved as the custodians of the game of football in Zimbabwe after consultations internally, externally and with the technical team to have a new start to a new dispensation.

"The Warriors who did duty for Zimbabwe during the 2012 and 2013 failed campaigns are with immediate effect retired en masse allowing for a new senior men's team to be built on the foundations of the Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 teams and some deserving cases from the disbanded team", Dube said.

Dube also said Zifa would with effect from Monday have put in place an Appeals committee to handle the protests over the Asiagate bans.

Zifa, Dube also said, had advised their affiliates to help in enforcing the bans which at the moment are only applying within the country and will only take a global effect should Fifa endorse the penalties.

"Zifa would like to implore all affiliates and other members of the family of football to desist at all costs from entertaining or hosting individuals who have been banned by the association.

"We have advised all our affiliate leagues, events committee and security organs to be on the lookout for all banned individuals who may want to sneak into football events and functions," Dube said.

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