HomeSportAre the Warriors ready to jump the last hurdle?

Are the Warriors ready to jump the last hurdle?

Time has its way of healing wounds.

Report by Mike Madyira
But sometimes it is vital to constantly refer to the history books to find ways of avoiding previous predicaments.

Our football history is laced with sad moments, but a wise man has to look at those mishaps to plan for the future.

During the 1990s our senior national football team, the Warriors, were once known as “the nearly men of African football”.

They earned this tag from their knack of falling at the last hurdle in their bid to qualify for major tournaments.

With Armando Ferreira as coach and Ben Koufie as technical director, our quest to qualify for the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) ended in anguish as we came three minutes away from qualifying for the biennial soccer showpiece which was to be hosted by Senegal.

Many would love to forget the afternoon of July 14 1991 when goalkeeper John Sibanda’s injury time howler allowed Congo to equalise when we needed an outright win.

The match ended 2-2 and Congo went on to qualify while we were left wondering where we could have gone wrong with a squad that included an on-fire Moses Chunga and the then menacing teenager, Peter Ndlovu.

Two years later, with the late Reinhard Fabisch now in charge, the country was plunged into mourning again with two near-misses in the World Cup and Afcon qualifiers.

On July 25 1993, again at the National Sports Stadium, Kalusha Bwalya broke the hearts of millions of Zimbabweans when his late equaliser cancelled Agent Sawu’s lead for the Warriors to inspire a makeshift Zambian team to the 1994 Afcon finals staged in Tunisia.

Zimbabwe had drawn nil-all against a full-strength Zambia, which was later tragically wiped out in a plane crash, but failed to beat a depleted squad to finish Group 5 just one point behind leaders Chipolopolo.

While we were still licking our wounds, the final round of the World Cup qualifiers added salt to injury.

After beating Cameroon 1-0 at home and needing at least a draw to qualify for the 1994 quadrennial football global showpiece, we came back from the second leg in Yaoundé in grief after succumbing to a 3-1 defeat.

The fluent way the team played had given everybody the reason to believe that we could beat the Brazils of this world.

What is important to remember is that this was an era when many visiting teams would return home with tails between their legs, but a review reflects the grim reality, that we have nothing tangible to show for it.

In 2001, we again missed the 2002 Afcon ticket by a whisker, with Zifa partly to blame for inadequate material and financial resources for the team.

Needing just a draw on the last day of qualification, the Warriors fell down 2-1 to DRC, whom we had beaten 3-2 in Harare.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading