Ray Bande Senior Sports Reporter—
|DESIPITE a myriad of administrative boobs and blunders typical of the game of football in the country, Warriors coach Calisto Pasuwa is still expected to lead the 23-men who will go on a tour of national duty in the West African country of Gabon for the 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations aiming at nothing less than a quarter final appearance.|
Although reports of discontentment have rocked the national team camp, the Warriors were expected to leave at the weekend for the final leg of their training camp which will be spiced up by an international friendly against Cameroon in Yaoundé on January 10.
After a four-day stint in Cameroon, the Warriors will then head to Franceville to set up base just in time for their opening Group B game against Algeria on January 15.
The Warriors, who took a weekend break on New Year’s Eve, regrouped early this week.
The biennial international men’s football <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_football> championship of Africa <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa> begins on January 14.
Fans and football personalities interviewed by this newspaper expressed mixed feelings over Warriors’ chances of reaching the quarter final stage of the tournament.
Although many concurred that the team has the depth in talent to compete at that level, they decried the absurd camp arrangements that saw the players and the technical team sleeping at different places on Tuesday night after Zifa failed to provide decent accommodation resulting in the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe to intervene and book the players only at a hotel in Central Business District in Harare.
Reports from Harare by Wednesday afternoon indicated that the country’s soccer mother body had not yet secured accommodation for the team while FUZ had only booked them for two nights hoping Zifa would have put their house in order.
As if that was enough for the nation’s best supported team, the Warriors were also unable to use the National Sports Stadium for training on Tuesday because a $60 fee had not been paid, while match balls sent by CAF are still holed up at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority for nearly two months now.
Sadly, it is not clear why the Warriors are experiencing all these challenges despite Zifa having received a grant from CAF for use for preparations while mobile network provider Net One announced a $250,000 sponsorship for the Warriors two weeks ago to cover all of the team’s needs for their Nations Cup campaign.
“It is sad that we are going through challenging times economically and that has now reflected on the preparations that we are having ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.
We stand a good chance of doing well but if the disturbances that we hear are going on are allowed to persist are allowed to go on we might fail to make any impact.
“As a nation we have always known that our preparations have been our greatest weakness. By now we should have learnt from our past experiences and at least make sure we get it right this time. If things are corrected early we might get to the quarter final stage,’ said passionate Mutare football administrator Ticha Zikai.
Former Monomotapa United assistant coach Rodwell Dhlakama also echoed Zikai’s sentiments saying there is need to make sure that the current disturbances in camp do not get any worse.
“We have a good squad, a good coach and I have no doubt that they can compete with any nation on the continent. However, for as long as we are still having confusion in camp like we are doing then we are doomed.
“Zifa needs to make sure that they put their house in order and give those youngsters a chance to compete favourably,” said Dhlakama.
Former PSL official Mwandibhuya Mutepfa also said we have a good chance but doubted the national team’s state of preparedness.
“We have great chances to go and display a lot of improvement as a nation but I doubt whether we will go far because of our state odf preparedness. Sport in general in Zimbabwe is underfunded, worse in our football,” he said.
Dynamos Supporters Association national executive member as well as Mutare Chapter chairperson Coleen Mbato said the team is capable of brewing a shocker at Gabon 2017.
“They will pull a shocker. Pasuwa is one person who is good in grinding results. Apart from that I believe we have got a good squad which was accorded good preparatory ground in terms of friendly matches against Ivory Coast and Cameroun,’ said Mbato.