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Well Done Warriors…but

LIKE most  Zimbabweans, I was naturally delighted that the Warriors won the Cosafa Senior Challenge Trophy.

Certain people think otherwise due to this newspaper’s restrained coverage of the tournament and criticism of Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa and his team.

But again that’s hardly something that worries us given the nature of football fans in general and Zimbabwean fans in particular.

And we make no apology for seeing things differently. In fact we are quite pleased, in retrospect, that we were able to give the Warriors and Zimbabwean football an accurate reality check, a bigger picture, on the sidelines of celebrating victory in a regional football tournament of very little significance on the international football landscape.

History tells us that Spanish and European football giants Real Madrid, in their pursuit for the bigger picture have on separate occasions fired two coaches — Vicente del Bosque and Fabio Capello — after they had won the La Liga title.

My point here is that we mustn’t get carried away. If you were to ask most people about the state of football in Zimbabwe today, you are likely to hear that it’s in good health because we’ve just won the Cosafa.

This is totally misleading.

In 2004 when we qualified for our first African Nations Cup in Tunisia, we beat Algeria 2-1 in a brilliant performance that brought us recognition on the world stage.

Where are we now? And where is Algeria? We dismally failed to qualify for the 2010 African Nations Cup in Angola and the World Cup in South Africa in the same year.

Algeria, after realising that their football was going down, went away and did something to correct the situation. As we speak the Desert Foxes are in dreamland, on the verge of qualifying for next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa. A draw tomorrow away to Egypt will send them through to their first World Cup in 24 years.

Their position on the Fifa rankings is an impressive 29.

Then in 2006 at our second Nations Cup in Egypt, we beat Ghana 2-1 in another stirring showing that had us believing we were on our way up the football ladder.

Alas! Where are we now? And where is Ghana?

Ghana, perhaps using the Zimbabwe defeat as the rude awakening they wanted, went away and did something to correct the situation.

Only four months after the Warriors gave them a reality check at Afcon, they were in Germany, leaving a mark on the 2006 World Cup finals.

This year the Black Stars became the first African team to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and are heavily tipped to be one of the continent’s best flag-bearers at the tournament.

Sadly for Zimbabwe, we did not move along with the likes of Algeria and Ghana. We back-pedalled when they were putting their systems right and moving ahead.

And that is exactly what we’ve been trying to make people realise. These are the levels we must measure ourselves against.

Winning the Cosafa was fine, but maybe it would also have been a good thing if we had not won it. If that were the case we would not have had a false impression of the state of our football.

It would have been cruel, but we would have gone back to the drawing board with a more accurate reality check, just like Algeria and Ghana did.

Enock Muchinjo

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