26 February 2013

Zimbabwe: 'Let's Support Football'

PRESIDENT Mugabe has challenged football administrators to raise the level of the game to enable the nation to participate at grand stages like the Nations Cup finals. He said the Government hasn't done enough to support sport and, had such backing been provided, the Warriors could play better than 2013 Nations Cup finalists Burkina Faso.

Presenting the Bob '89 Super Cup to Dynamos at State House yesterday, at an occasion attended by Highlanders, Premier Soccer League officials and sponsors of the tournament, President Mugabe bemoaned lack of Government support in domestic sport.

"Our soccer should raise itself or we should do something to raise it. I do not know where we are failing when it comes to competitions like the African Cup, let alone the World Cup," he said.

President Mugabe said Angola's level of play was not different from Zimbabwe although the Palancas Negras defeated the Warriors and landed a slot in the just-ended African Cup of Nations in South Africa where they bowed out in the first round.

"I know last time it was in Angola and that big man Manucho did us disservice with those two goals . . . ," the President said.

"Let us take our soccer to that level.

"When I look at their standard of play on television, and comparing with ours, I did not see any difference."

The President said there was also nothing extraordinary about the Nations Cup final pitting Nigeria and Burkina Faso, which he watched at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

He said the Nigerians had a better strike force during that match.

"Nigeria won by just one goal. We (Warriors) could have played better than Burkina Faso. Anyway, let us do something for our soccer," said the President.

"Let us examine where we lack support for it. I do not think we are doing much . . . Government is doing little on soccer.

"In other countries they have developed their facilities like gyms to be more physically fit and therefore to be able to last for 90 minutes."

Besides better sporting facilities, President Mugabe stressed the need for football players to be on good diet and to undergo periodical medical check-ups to ensure that they are in good health.

He had the players in stitches when he said people should just not take up "mukonde we sadza", it's just starch" but encouraged them to have a balanced diet.

"The facilities, I think we need to improve on them. It (soccer) is one sport that requires great support.

"It is the sport of the world. I also admire cricket and tennis but soccer is the number one sport.

"It has more crowds and has greater fascination than the other sports," President Mugabe said.

He said football was also a source of livelihood as it generates income enabling players to invest.

The players from both teams sang belated 'Happy Birthday' to the President and the two team leaders Murape Murape and Masimba Mambare presented the Head of State and Government with framed Bob Super Cup jerseys.

The President then presented the Bob Super Cup to Dynamos captain Murape before greeting all the players from both teams.

The President jokingly said he hopes Bosso's big loss did not reflect a match-fixing scoreline and he does not support any team, but is a neutral who loves good play.

"I don't want to say there was any fixing of the match, it wasn't their day and I am sure they will have their day.

"I want to thank you for the honour," said the President.

"At 89, you can't really play soccer but l do play it.

"It's a very overwhelming gesture that you have shown, I reciprocate in a small way by saying 'thank you.'

"I shall, in the future, try to do something for both sides, Dynamos and Highlanders."

Chairman of the Bob Super Cup organising committee, Stan Kasukuwere, said they had upped their prize money for the winners to US$110 000 while the runners-up Highlanders got a cheque for US$70 000.

The President presented the cheques to both teams.

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