ZAMBIAN coaches Keagan Mumba and Tennant Chilumba have praised the standard of football in this country, saying if well managed, Zimbabwe could become a football powerhouse in Africa. "Zimbabwe can win the African Cup of Nations just like what Zambia did because we share the same talent. The only difference between the two countries is the Zambezi River otherwise we are the same.
"In 1993 we lost players in Gabon and we had to rebuild and the team went on to lose to Nigeria in the final in Tunisia," said Mumba, a former Dynamos coach.
Zambia lost the match 1-2 with Emmanuel Amunike grabbing a brace for Nigeria while Elijah Litana pulled a goal back for Zambia.
Mumba said just like Zambia being affected by the plane crash, Zimbabwe was affected by the Asiagate scandal "but they have a good chance of building a team as compared to Zambia because Zimbabwe have the resources."
"Zifa suspensions on players involved in the Asiagate scandal affected your football. The decision was very harsh because as the motherbody they should have known that the life of a player depends on football. Now that the saga is over, they must be bonding with the affected (players). Zifa must not run football alone but the Government must assist as well. I know that there is financial embezzlement in Africa but business houses must pour money in Zifa.
"Zimbabwe also need to invest in the youths, train their local coaches and also bring back the players they had suspended if they are to get results," said Mumba.
His counterpart Chilumba, who is now coaching local Premiership side FC Platinum, said if the talent in Zimbabwe was well managed, they would be a powerhouse in Africa in just three years.
"Zimbabwe has been playing in Cosafa for so long and it's high time they should participate in African Cup of Nations on a regular basis and expose their players as most scouts go and watch such tournaments. There is no difference between Zambian and Zimbabwean football as the style of play is the same but Zimbabwe only need to change their approach.
"When you are almost there you mess things up by bringing in new coaches, co-coaches and new managers for the national team and in the end you fail (to qualify for major international tournaments). I hope one day you will come right and emulate Zambia," said Chilumba.
Zimbabwe recently appointed German coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels to take charge of the senior national soccer team.
Last Wednesday he guided the Warriors to a 2-1 victory over Botswana in an international friendly match at Rufaro.
The victory gave the local fans a glimmer of hope as it reminded many of the days when the late German coach Reinhard Fabisch was in charge of the "Dream Team" in the early 1990s.
Pagels has already begun to lay the foundation of the future Warriors team but the good thing was the inclusion of players in the mould of goalkeeper Washington 0 in his new squad.