Zimbabwe: Stakeholders Feel the Pain After World Cup Debacle

15 October 2021

THE football fraternity have urged ZIFA to swallow their pride and accept they have failed the nation before corrective measures can be taken to resuscitate the game.

Former Zimbabwe international, Alois Bunjira, believes the game has taken several steps backwards, following the miserable run by the national team, in the last 12 months. The Warriors suffered back-to-back defeats to Ghana, to crash out of the 2020 World Cup, with two rounds of play still to come.

The defeats took their unwanted record to one win, in 16 games, since October last year. "That is when people need to realise it when others say the Dream Team was the best and the Under-23s of the time were as exciting," he wrote on his social media forums.

"The Dream Team may not have qualified for AFCON but they gave football fans prolonged times to remember, and the nostalgia, to last a lifetime.

"The team caught the imagination of the nation and united the Zimbabwean people.

"The Under 23s of the time equally gave the nation a time to savour.

"Football gave people a place to be merry and forget problems, not the other way round, where it is now painful to watch a national team match, with virtually no junior football to talk about."

He said the National Sports Stadium, which used to be a fortress, has been desecrated.

"The National Sports Stadium was sacred during the Dream Team days. Big African teams were slaughtered in that arena. "The nation needs the Dream Team days back.

"We need to go back to the drawing board and press the restart button. Our football needs a complete revamp.

"At least, we have a strong base as a starting point, with the young pro Zimbabwe footballers scattered around the world."

Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association organising secretary, Chris "Romario" Musekiwa said the Warriors should not lose hope, because of the World Cup failure.

"Zimbabwe is out of the 2022 World Cup and it's a true reality of football," he said.

"Our exit is an experience that we have to live with but we have to work and strengthen our weaknesses.

"As we look into the future, we must invest in human capital, material, physical, morale and the psychological being of footballers, administrators, and relevant personnel, to bring out the quality of football Zimbabwe is yearning for."

He also urged ZIFA and the Warriors technical team to use the remaining World Cup "dead rubbers" against South Africa and Ethiopia, to prepare for the upcoming AFCON finals, in Cameroon.

"This is a wake-up call and firing coaches is not the best solution. We must put our house in order.

"Let's use the remaining fixtures to gain experience, knowledge and tap from others, yet working on our past mistakes, ahead of the AFCON finals.

"Coaches must be given the greenlight to scout for talented players, throughout the country, and to bring in young and energetic players, into the fold.

"The game of football requires resources, commitment and focus. I urge the entire nation to rally behind coach Norman Mapeza and his charges, as they regroup for the next assignments," said Musekiwa.

Former ZIFA board member, Francis Zimunya, said a complete system overhaul was needed to save Zimbabwean football.

"I am saddened by the current state of affairs in football in Zimbabwe. We need to go back to the drawing board as a nation.

"Our football has been destroyed. Let's try and put our heads together as stakeholders so that we find lasting solutions to our problems. We all want a bright future for our nation.

"Right now we have become the laughing stock of all the nations.

"Former and current footballers, let's all unite and accept responsibility for the damage and mess that we have caused to the game of football, which we all love so much. "Sometimes, there is honour in walking away, and allow the nation to have a fresh start," said Zimunya.

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