16 June 2017

Zimbabwe/Liberia: Let's Not Get Carried Away

As we celebrate the way we thrashed Liberia, I think we need some bit of caution -- yes, it was an emphatic win and a brilliant all-round display by our boys, one that deserves a pat on the back.

Congratulations are in order to coach Norman Mapeza and crew. Special mention should go to the captain, Knowledge Musona, because his hat-trick reminded us of the immense talent we have in this nation. However, we should not forget that it was only Liberia that we beat and, as they say in football lingo, Liberia ishiri (easy targets), and their Sunday display showed exactly that.

George Chigova's goal was never threatened, the only time Liberia had a clear sight at goal was when one of their strikers was gifted with a scoring opportunity from a poor clearance by Teenage Hadebe. I am not undermining the value of the three points and the three goals we got on Sunday.

My only worry is we might get carried away and forget the huge task at hand. First of all, the two Congos are way different from Liberia. The bigger threat of the two is the DRC and their performance in recent years has been very impressive and they started their campaign with a 3-1 win over their neighbours.

They have been having perfect preparations, relevant friendlies, good organisation and smooth arrangements pre-and-after matches. Congo Brazzaville can be our banana skin if not handled well. A look into their squad shows that they have over 10 players playing top-flight football across Europe, especially in France.

We need to appoint a substantive Warriors coach. We cannot afford to have someone on an interim basis and ZIFA should just name their man, give him clear and specific goals and targets and this has to happen with immediate effect.

Secondly, they have to agree on a programme clearly spelling out training camps and friendlies and if there are overseas-based players identified by the coach, whose citizenship has to be sorted, it has to be done promptly. I am totally against appointing different coaches for different tournaments as muted by ZIFA.

As we have seen with the replacement of Callisto Pasuwa, Mapeza brought with him new faces into the Warriors set-up. Just imagine if we have three Warriors coaches, where does the cohesion and integration come from?

One cannot afford to ignore the issue of our not participating in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. The effect is that we will have huge breaks between our competitive matches. There is great need to formulate a plan to compensate for these gaps. Another issue that needs attention is ZIFA's relationships with various stakeholders.

The Wellington Mpandare/Peter Ndlovu debacle is something we could have avoided. I have high regards for both men and I know they can do better.

My advice to both is, help each other to do your jobs. Your careers require you to use your heads more than anything else -- contain your emotions and have cool heads.

Peter is a legend and Mpandare is the Warriors manager. Peter, the days of dribbling others to score are over. Now you need to connect with others to score victories. Wellington, some truths are told behind closed doors. Not everything is for public consumption.

Speak to foster relationships even when offended. Top of the list is the need for funding for all Warriors requirements. This is an area ZIFA has struggled to find a reliable, consistent and all-weather suitor. It is understandable where we are coming from but we cannot continue in this haphazard fashion we are getting used to. Football is a sellable commodity.

Packaged well, it sells on its own. Everyone understands the challenges our economy is going through but that cannot continue to be an excuse anymore. We have had suitors in varying forms.

Our participation at the AFCON finals was no mean feat and what we need is to formulate an agreement with suitors where both sides' interests are well served. We cannot afford the brand Warriors to continue to be short-changed, abused and taken for granted.

We can't lose our individuality, morals, principles, values and dignity over a few dollars. Mr ZIFA president, the Warriors sponsorship was one of your many promises when you came in. It is the one we are asking you to deliver. We have seen some sort of funding here and there but it doesn't fit in the reliable and consistent bracket.

This campaign cannot be handled like the previous one, it has to be orderly and to the point. My crazy analysis says the winners of the group should get at least 13 points. That means we have to win all our home matches and at least one win and a draw away. This can only be achieved by following a masterplan.

Of course, after all, tina Bla Phidza vemaplan.

Bothwell Mahlengwe is a banker and retired Premiership footballer and can be contacted, for responses to this contribution or other football-related matters at -- [email protected]

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