ZIMBABWE senior men's handball team failed to come to the party as they missed out on qualification to this year's African Games following a poor show at the just ended qualifiers held in Lusaka, Zambia.
The regional event was supposed to see both men and women's teams from the region competing for the sole ticket in each section to the Games scheduled for Morocco between August and September.
But the women's event had to be cancelled after only two countries, Zimbabwe and the hosts Zambia availed themselves for the contest.
The men's event went ahead as planned with South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia taking part.
Zimbabwe went down to South Africa 16-20 in their opener before losing to eventual event winners Zambia 19-27.
The hosts dismissed South Africa 32-21 in the final that was played on Saturday.
Coach Farai Gwisai cited lack of adequate preparations as the main cause of their poor show.
"What I can say this was the first of its kind for Zimbabwe to play for qualifiers and it was an eye opener in terms of the technical (aspect) and our play is not very far if you can see the score margin. But the challenge was of preparation.
"We need to gear up on preparation as a country, which is different from other countries they have the resources. We played Zambia they had been in camp for more than two months, so that becomes a challenge. So there is need for ample time to prepare.
"The boys performed very well. I cannot blame them to say they did not do their best, they did their best," said Gwisai.
Actually, Zimbabwe's participation in the tournament was largely uncertain due to serious financial challenges.
ZHF president, Stewart Sanhewe said they have to go back and lo0k at everything after the Zambian debacle.
"It's devastating because our dream was to participate in the next round of the competition. It's unfortunate we were beaten. Now it's like we have to go back to the drawing board and see where we went wrong.
"One other factor was that they had a limited camp. This was due to financial constraints, we had to participate in this tournament with very limited resources and no sponsorship. We hope as we grow the sport have one or two partners coming on board to help us.
"On the government it was our expectation that even if they have limited resources, they still have to also budget some minimum contributions to associations like us so that it encourages us. When you are not supported at times you become vulnerable," said Sanhewe.
The women's team lost 20-28 to Zambia in a friendly match and Sanhewe said they are now awaiting a decision from the African Handball Confederation on the way forward regarding the women's qualifiers.
The teams were expected back home yesterday.