Harrington Shereni might have been a bit too emotional in sharing his views on how Zimbabwean football has regressed but he did make some sense regardless.
The dreadlocked former Dynamos and Nantes left-back took to microblogging site Twitter after the Warriors became the first team to bow out of CHAN 2021 and wrote the following.
“We fought to bring our football to a good respectable level and some people just come and destroy all the hard work. Cry my beloved Warriors.”
Shereni might not have directly- pointed the blame to specific individuals but it’s as clear as day light that Zimbabwean football finds itself where it is right now due incompetence on the part of certain people.
Where is Zimbabwean football? One might ask.
Zimbabwean football, regrettably, is at a stage where records are constantly broken for the wrong reasons and that has been normalised, with the football- loving public suffering the consequences.
In September 2019, the Warriors, then under the guidance of Chicken Inn coach Joey ‘Mafero’ Antipas, became the first team in Africa to lose to Somalia in over ten years, when they were edged 0-1 in a World Cup qualifier preliminary round in Somali.
Some might downplay the effect of that loss since the deficit was overturned days later at the National Sports Stadium but that doesn’t exonerate the fact that Zimbabwe will be remembered as the team that lost a football match to the Somalians in over a decade.
For a team which used to stand toe to toe with African powerhouses like Cameroon and Egypt in the early 90s and even with same opponents in the early 2000s, makes it somewhat understandable for Shereni to react that way.
He was part of the Warriors squad which stepped on Tunisian soil for the country’s maiden Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2004.
Those blessed enough with the gift of life to have witnessed the Warriors back then will remember that the national team was once in the top 10 on the African rankings.
The only difference between then and now is that we have businessmen masquerading as football administrators, clueless in the latter.
In 2019 again, when the Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA board was looking for a Warriors coach after the legendary Sunday ‘Mhofu’ Chidambwa called it a day, they approached Norman Mapeza, so we heard.
Mapeza is undeniably one of the best coaches in Zimbabwe and many opine that he can take the national team to dizzy heights, rightfully so considering his pedigree as a tactician and no nonsense character when it comes to players’ discipline, a perfect ingredient for success in African football.
He (Mapeza) did confirm that he was approached and also revealed that he asked ZIFA to pay him at least half of the unpaid dues from his previous stint at the helm of the country’s senior men national soccer team.
Predictably, our football leaders went on mute and the next time they decided to speak, they were letting sports journalists know that they would be unveiling Zdravko Logarusic as the Warriors coach.
With all due respect to both the Kamambo-led administration and the Croat, Mapeza was the perfect candidate and the fact that they resorted to Logarusic was simply a case of avoiding paying a debt they did not accumulate.
It was simply a ‘cheaper’ option, not knowing how cheap it was after all considering that we never heard of a local coach being paid USD7000, as is the case with Logarusic.
Whether or not the Croat is good enough is a different episode on a different series but the shambolic manner in which the Warriors bowed out of CHAN was another bitter pill to swallow for football fans.
Covid-19 will be the obvious and easy excuse for the fiasco in Cameroon but everyone knows poor preparations for national team assignments started well before the global pandemic.
We simply did not prepare well for the biannual continental showpiece, whether tactically or administratively is simply a coin toss.
Cry our beloved Warriors, once again and not for the last time, the football-loving public will wipe the tears.