The only difference between now and the pre-COVID-19 era in countries where football is administered better, or should we say where its taken seriously, is that no spectactors are allowed in stadiums during games.
By far the worst health crisis in over 100 years, the global pandemic brought football to a halt in March but normalcy is slow returning in most countries as far as the game in concerned, with leagues back in full wing and international competitions up and running.
The Covid-19 era has however reminded the local football fraternity that Zimbabwean football faces a bigger and more dangerous pandemic than COVID-19; ZIFA.
The comic way in which the Felton Kamambo-led board handled preparations for the upcoming Malawi friendly match is a clear testimony that things will never change in that regard. Actually, maybe they can change, for the worse.
Since his appointment in February, Warriors coach Zdvravko Logarušić has not overseen any single match and was holed up in his native Croatia during the greater part of lockdown, the time he should have utilized to research on his new paymasters’ battered reputation.
The country’s football governing body waited until Thursday afternoon to announce a squad for the trip to Blantyre, which surprisingly-consisted of nine locally-based players- players who haven’t had at least training, for over eight months.
ZIFA also chickened-out of a scheduled press conference at the eleventh hour, where the media would have obviously bombarded them with questions on the chaotic preparations for Sunday’s clash.
In his poorly-rehearsed statement announcing the depleted Warriors squad, the association’s spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela conveniently- scapegoated the release of the 2021 CHAN finals dates to justify the failure to bring most of the Europe-based players Logarušić wanted to asses before the blockbuster Algeria games slated for November.
“Due to travel embargoes in place because of the covid-19 pandemic, some players from abroad
whom the coach wished to assess will not make it for this match.
Consequently, the technical team incorporated nine locally based players into the team, with
one eye on the upcoming 2021 African Nations Championship,” read part of the statement.
Contrary to that, sources at 53 Livingstone Avenue revealed that United States-based goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva, whose invitation was confirmed by his club, could not turn up because the return ticket to Michigan was estimated at US$3000, an amount they (ZIFA) were reluctant to pay.
The same sources also revealed that players like Takudzwa Chimwemwe and Jimmy Dzingai were just “cheaper alternatives” as the association nearly got to plan Z just to fulfill the fixture, not for it to serve it’s actual purpose; which is for the coach to prepare for Algeria, because the majority of the names on the list will obviously not be considered.
ZIFA might have, if the truth is to be told, exposed themselves that they were just pressured into a friendly match; they neither planned nor budgeted for one because at some point, Kamambo clearly stated that it was “not possible” for the Warriors to play any during this international break.
Against this background, isn’t obvious that Logarušić already has an alibi if the Warriors fail to beat the Desert Foxes?
The novel COVID-19 cannot hold a candle to ZIFA in being a more dangerous pandemic to Zimbabwean football.