By Michael Kariati
FORGET about the fight between the Sport and Recreation Commission on one hand, and Felton Kamambo and Philemon Machana on the other.
All what matters now is the Warriors of Zimbabwe’s participation at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals and that they do better than the one point they picked up at the 2019 finals in Egypt.
Surely, it has been a roller coaster period for Zimbabwean football but the truth is that the fans do not care who is in charge of running their game. All they want is to see their Warriors on the field of play and for that matter, doing well or trying to do well.
To their credit — and despite their feud — both the SRC and the 2018 elected Zifa board have realized the importance of the Warriors and have outlined huge and exciting plans for the team with regards to Cameroon Afcon 2021.
Sadly, only one of them — that is the SRC — will have their plans implemented, and they have gone past the first step, that is, extending Norman Mapeza’s stay as Warriors coach until February 1 when Afcon 2021 comes to an end.
Zimbabwe needed someone who knows the players better, a coach whom the players respected and above all, someone who knows the politics of Zimbabwe football and Mapeza fitted that profile.
Coincidentally, both the SRC and Zifa seemed to have this thing in common, that Mapeza was the right choice to take the team to Afcon 2021 where Guinea, Malawi, and Senegal, are waiting in the group stages.
- Chamisa under fire over US$120K donation
- Mavhunga puts DeMbare into Chibuku quarterfinals
- Pension funds bet on Cabora Bassa oilfields
- Councils defy govt fire tender directive
Fine. There were some who lost faith in Mapeza following the 2022 World Cup defeats to South Africa and Ghana and the draw against lowly Ethiopia but with the urgency of the situation at hand, Mapeza stood out as the best candidate.
It would also have- been cruel to deny Mapeza the chance of a romance with Afcon 2021 with reports suggesting that he is the one who picked up the provisional 40 member Zimbabwe team that was sent to Caf which shall be trimmed to the final 23.
It would also have been disastrous to have brought in a new coach at this time of the year since that coach would have had to start all over again by experimenting with the players at a time results were needed.
After the three World Cup games, Mapeza now knows the players and should be spot on not only in his final 23 member team selection but also as to who plays where instead of the merry-go -round he adopted against South Africa, Ghana and Ethiopia.
As things stand right now, the SRC has taken charge of the journey to Cameroon and it is time they also took football seriously by persuading the government to come up with reasonable allowances and winning bonuses for the players.
The $53 000 they forked out for the last Afcon edition in Egypt is peanuts compared to what other teams are offered for representing their country at this continental football gathering.
In fact, $53 000 is less than a two-month’s salary for Ghana’s Black Stars coach Milovan Rajevan of Serbia who earns around $30 000 a month before other allowances.
Other African countries are gushing out huge sums of money for bonuses and allowances as well as huge incentives for reaching a certain stage of the competition and that too, is the direction Zimbabwe should take.
The SRC should also take the extra responsibility of persuading the authorities to pay the salary of the senior national team coach and take the burden off the financially crippled Zifa.
All over Africa, the salary of the national team coach is paid for by the government with the football federation only coming in with bonuses and allowances.
The Zimbabwean government cannot claim that it is so poor that it cannot afford to fork out as little as a US$7 800 a month to pay the salary of the football coach.
That commitment should start right now with the payment of the monthly salary of Mapeza for his Afcon 2021 assignment – whatever, the results would be in Cameroon.For your views, comments and suggestions firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp on 0773 266 779.