TFWL: Where are we really getting it wrong?


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Talking Football with Lawrence

When Baroka FC coach Kgoloko Thobejane coined the now-famous quote ‘football will kill you’, many found his sentiments hilarious.

“Football will kill you, it will kill you a real death. You will die because of football,” Thobejane said in a post-match interview on SuperSport TV after his charges were defeated in a DStv Premiership match last year.

If football does kill, as Thobejane simply put, I’m not sure in what category that kind of death falls into.

There is a natural death when one falls ill or loses life because of old age.

There is also accidental death when life is lost on account of an accident, like a traffic collision, a slip, or anything else without malicious intent.

Suicide is also a category of death when someone intentionally ends their own life.

Then there is homicide, when a person kills another, through a violent, negligent, reckless, or even accidental act.

The bottom line is, it is very difficult to believe football can cause death, because if that were the case, Zimbabwe would probably be empty by now.

In fact, contrary to Thobejane’s claims, considering how much some Zimbabweans love football, they can even come back to life if the game is played or talked about at their funerals. Football is life here.

The country has a football-loving public that has been subjected to emotional torture for the past 42-years.

Fresh from a disappointing Afcon 2021 campaign, in which the Warriors failed to proceed to the knockout stages of the continental showpiece at the fifth time of asking, focus shifted to the Mighty Warriors.

Sithetheliwe Sibanda’s charges needed to beat Botswana over two legs, to book a spot at the AWCON 2022 finals.

Zimbabwe were 180 minutes away from booking a place in the 12th edition of the tournament, which will be held in Morocco in July this year.

The Mighty Warriors had 16 days to formulate their strategy- I don’t even remember the last time a Zimbabwe national team prepared for a match, for that long.

Unlike previously, when the women’s national team was treated differently from their male counterparts, this time they were booked at a five-star hotel and got allowances in foreign currency.

Even when defender Nobukhosi Ncube pleaded with Deputy Minister Tinoda Machakaire to buy the team new football boots, someone must have acted.

I’m not sure if the Hwedza South legislator fulfilled his promise of buying the boots but what I do know for sure, is that Ncube was not wearing the same boots she had that day, during yesterday’s disappointing loss to Botswana.

They were simply second best on an afternoon when many expected them to do well.

I will always stick to my argument that whenever a team fails, there might be a combination of several contributing factors but none overrides the coach’s inability to get the best out of it.

I said Norman Mapeza is to blame for Zimbabwe’s failure at Afcon 2021 and many questioned my football knowledge and I will say the same of Sibanda even if Zimbabweans react in a similar way.

The Botswana coach simply crowded the midfield to thwart the dangerous duo of captain Emma Msipa and Rudo Neshamba but Sibanda never changed tactics upon that realization, throughout the game.

Rutendo Makore was unfit and struggled upfront. It was a big surprise that she lasted that long in the game.

When Zimbabwe were 1-2 down in the second half, it was the Botswana coach who called his charges to give them instructions while Sibanda remained rooted in her touchline.

While we continuously blame the ‘system’, are we not sanitizing the coaches’ failure in the process? If not, where are we getting wrong?