13 June 2018

Zimbabwe: 'We Should Build On Cosafa Success'

The Warriors won the COSAFA Cup and deserve to be saluted for their efforts and never-say-die-spirit.

Coach Sunday Chidzambwa, Rahman Gumbo and Brenna Msiska deserve all the praise and we also need to salute the players and the fans, including Chris "Romario" Musekiwa and Mistry "Diaspora" Chipere.

This is the day our ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa should celebrate in style as he was the first to admit that the foreign legions of Zimbabweans dotted around the globe are welcome to play for their country.

This was the day when Nigel Munyati should be hailed as a great servant of the nation for what he has done with his Aces Youth Soccer Academy that had almost five players in the squad.

His vision and intelligence is what takes a nation forward.

The Government should sit down with Nigel and seek to understand the tribulations that are commonly related to raising players like Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, George Chigova and many others.

I hope this day is a great day for Tino Kadewere as he starts on a new football trajectory at international levels.

Sublime performances like the ones he displayed in South Africa raise the stock of players on the market and enhance their chances of recognition by better leagues and bigger clubs in Europe.

His late father, Onias Kadewere, was a true servant for Zimbabwe football and put a lot into the game in the grassroots in Highfield while also raising his kids to be players.

I openly witnessed it all when I was having some coaching programmes at Zimbabwe Grounds and he was there to support the local young kids who came in droves.

Hopefully, we will also do well in our next AFCON fixture.

We must not leave any stone unturned and we need to make sure that the likes of Tendayi Darikwa (Nottingham Forest), Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge), Tristan Nydam (Ipswich Town), MaCaulley Bonne (Leyton Orient), Rinemhota (Reading) and the other foreign-based players who have shown a desire to play for us are brought home.

Alec Mudimu showed the difference that such players bring to the team.

He seized the opportunity with both hands and served his country very well in his first major tournament for his nation.

He showed great discipline and the technique he used to score his penalty in the shoot-out showed what these players get from very quality coaches.

His passion to win every game was there for everyone to see as he was always the first to join the celebrations whenever we scored.

When we started crying out for our Zimbabwean players to start representing our nation way back, we were dismissed by the then ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze.

Our dire efforts to engage him on critical issues affecting the national teams were simply ignored and our plans were chucked in the dustbins of history.

Every coach that we engaged on this matter crumbled under fear.

However, Mhofu changed all that.

As we reflect on this COSAFA Cup success, we are cognisant of the fact that Zimbabwe has by far the largest number of young players in the UK, after Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Algeria.

That alone is a clear testament of the hurdles that we have overcome and we should start to embrace all these players from the Under-17, Under-21, Under-23 and upwards to make our senior national teams.

Our aim is to start with the Under-17 World Youth Tournament, which is currently held by England, and we have the pedigree to compete with these top nations and hold our own.

The majority of young players in the UK have shown the confidence and willingness to play for Zimbabwe.

I kindly ask the Government to seriously provide for policies that bring about meaningful development in the youth structures of our football.

We have talent and all we need is to ensure that we help these youngsters serve their country with distinction.

The COSAFA Cup should be the start, and not the end, of the journey.

Now, the whole country knows Mudimu but he is just one of many players who can wear our colours and do wonders for the national teams.

I know many of them and how good they are because I have been part of their developmental story for years.


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