Many Zimbabweans were left sour in their mouth after watching in horror as the nation’s flagship sporting project — the national soccer team — reduced to tatters in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Final Whistle with Simba Rushwaya
The mission to qualify for the Brazilian extravaganza was reduced to a mere “rebuilding” exercise by the powers that be at the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa), even though we ended up with what seemed like fatal injuries instead of mere bruises.
Zimbabwe produced their worst run in any qualifiers since Independence emerging with just one point after five matches.
Painful, is it not? The Warriors suffered their heaviest defeat at home since Independence losing 4-2 to Egypt on June 9. Hard to fathom!
But the million dollar question is whether it was wise for Zifa to hire Klaus Dieter Pagels to “rebuild” a senior team. To me it is like felling a tree from the top. There is no such thing as rebuilding the national team, unless someone is trying to hide behind a finger.
Zifa are trying to give a spin on their shortcomings by asking Pagels to use second class players to represent the nation, when we all know that we have better players with vast experience who can do better for the country.
The football governing body miserably failed to fund our Under-17 and Under-20 teams to participate in African tournaments and are trying to take cover it by rebuilding the Warriors, asking some novices to represent us. Those players belong to the youth teams whom Zifa ignored.
Denver Mukamba is a skillful player with a lot of vision. I have so much respect for him as a player, but with all that due respect he does not deserve to be the Warriors captain yet. Chicken Inn defender Felix Chindungwe, now 30, might be a revelation at his club, but is not national team material.
The continued call up of players such as Nicholas Guyo of Monomotapa, at the expense of Charlton Athletic midfielder Bradley Pritchard is scandalous. Even more outrageous is the sidelining of Kaizer Chiefs maestro Willard Katsande. Is Pagels really sure that we do not need the experience of Kingstone Nkhata in the team? Does Pagels want us to believe England based left-sided player Onismor Bhasera and Mamelodi Sundowns bulldozer Nyasha Mushekwi are spent forces? What about Belgium based Vusa Nyoni?
The national team is our ultimate team in the country, and using it as a platform for experiments is treasonous. I do not believe the Warriors are a developmental side and no wonder why I envisage a scenario where we use our best arsenal against the opposition.
Pagels and Zifa, these players have no any other country to fighting for and don’t reduce their mission to that of rebuilding rather than fight to their last iota of blood for their country. Why are you taking the country for granted?
This rebuilding mantra must start and end with the youth teams. As it is the Warriors brand has been reduced to that of kindergarten status and I bet my last dollar, very few will bother to go and watch the team play at the moment.
While Pagels’ tiki-taka football enthralled fans when the Warriors visited Egypt in Alexandria in March, it would appear the style is not reaping any rewards after the German lost three matches on the trot. I hear he needs 10 matches before he talks about winning, my foot! Which country wants to be punch bags?
My advice to Pagels and Zifa is that they should find another team to undertake experiments with and leave the Warriors to people who want to fulfill the aspirations of a nation. The Warriors are not a playing ground or a crèche for that matter.
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