2 June 2019

Zimbabwe: Warriors' Good AFCON Road

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was spot in his decision to appoint a special committee to spearhead fundraising efforts for the Warriors ahead of the team's escapade at the 2019 Afcon finals in Egypt.

The 18-member committee, which is chaired by chaired by acting Youth, Arts, Sport and Recreation minister Kazembe Kazembe with businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei as vice-chairperson faces a challenge to raise US $500 000 target, a figure similar to the same target given to the George Manyaya-led Mzansi 90 committee in 2012 and which they successfully raised then.

Given the fact that the Manyaya team took only two weeks to surpass the US$500 000 assignment, after convincing blue chip and big corporates to come on board, there is strong belief that the new team of 2019 can do the same over the same period.

Although there have been question marks as to why this 2019, committee is coming this late -- after it was known two months ago that the Warriors would be going to Egypt -- it is not the time frame to raise the money, but the ability of the people involved to deliver the goods, and for that matter in time.

It should also be placed on record that the Mzansi 90 team --that also included the likes of Desmond Ali, Joe Gombera and Chamu Chiwanza raised enough funds to charter a plane for the Warriors and their supporters to Angola and also guaranteed the players bonuses for winning.

Zifa president Felton Kamambo was honest enough to reveal that Zifa was at the moment cash strapped and banking on the money promised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for preparations.

This is the reason why the Warriors were not able to attract meaningful friendly matches. The truth is that there were many teams who were willing to play Zimbabwe, but the Warriors did not have the financial resources to pay for their own costs when the opportunity presented itself.

The Warriors will now have to rely on the Cosafa Cup and their only serious warm up game against the Super Eagles of Nigeria on June 8 to fine tune their team for Afcon 2019.

Whatever the case is, what is important right now is for Kazembe and his team to see to it that finances are in place before the Warriors leave South Africa after Cosafa Cup in high spirits for their games in Egypt.

There should not be a repeat of what happened with Charles Mhlauri's class of 2006 who looked capable of serving Africa with a dish of exciting football only to flop in Tunisia because of the chaotic manner of when they left home.

Or what happened in 2017 when Kalisto Pasuwa's team staged a sit in and even boycotted a Presidential dinner as they protested over nonpayment of appearance fees and bonuses.

Now it is up to Kazembe and his team that also includes ministers, Joel Biggie Matiza, Winston Chitando, and Mangaliso Ndlovu, to give the Warriors a befitting sendoff worth the convincing manner, in which they qualified for the continental showcase.

The committee also includes ZIFA vice chairman Phillemon Machana, Cabinet Ministers Joel Biggie Matiza (Transport and Infrastructure Development), Winston Chitando (Mines and Mining Development) and Nqobizitha Ndlovu (Industry and Commerce).

A number of high-profile captains of industry headlined by Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Divine Ndlukula, Zimpapers Group Chief Executive Pikirayi Deketeke, Lazarus Muchenje (CEO, NetOne), Chipo Mutasa (MD, TelOne), Philip Mataranyika (CEO, Nyaradzo), Sydney Mutsambiwa (CEO, Tongaat Hulett) and multiple award-winning entrepreneur Eve Gadzikwa, are also in the committee.

Sports administrators, including ZIFA board member Sugar Chagonda, Martin Dururu and Margaret Chari, are also part of the committee and expectations are high that the team can emulate what Manyaya's Mzansi 90 Committee did or even better.

In fact, this committee should be kept not only for the Warriors, but for sport in general, as there are other national teams that need attention -- the Zimbabwe netball team which is going to England for the World Cup and the Zimbabwe Women' cricket team, that has reached the ICC T20 Global qualifiers in Scotland.

The Warriors should just be the starting point for a long road.

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