Zimbabwean football: A ship that is about to hit an iceberg


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By Lawrence Mangenje

Like bread in the oven, Zimbabwean football always rises.

The local game is on a developmental stage, which has had the football-passionate nation daring to dream.

The future does look bright!

Scratch that—all of that is just a pipe dream.

The harsh reality is that this international break will remind football fans in the country of where we are in terms of the development of the beautiful game.

While our neighbors South Africa prepare to play a star-studded France in an eagerly-awaited international friendly, we will be drowning in our sorrows knowing that international football, for now in Zimbabwe, remains wishful thinking.

Bafana Bafana travel to Belgium to face Guinea on the 25th of March first, before taking on the world champions in Lille, France, four days later.

While our neighbors from across the Limpopo will be rubbing shoulders with Kylian Mbappe and company, our other brothers, Chipolopolo, will be in Turkey, where they will play two international friendlies.

Both sides, Bafana Bafana and Zambia, did not qualify for the last AFCON 2021 finals in Cameroon and have their sights set on the next edition of the continental showpiece in Côte d’Ivoire next year.

While we will be praying for a miracle that FIFA somehow allows our Warriors to take part in the qualifiers for the biannual tournament, we will be coming to terms with a lot of facts.

This is the only period in the history of Zimbabwean football in which we have two players in the French Ligue 1 and maybe two in the English Premier League later, but both scenarios might not benefit the national team.

This is the period where highly-rated Liverpool starlet Isaac Mabaya might honor the call-up he received from the England national u-18 squad, not because he prefers it over the Warriors, but simply because the future of international football here is gloomy.

Another rising star, Leicester City’s Tawanda Maswanhise, is making huge progress at the Foxes, where he was recently pictured training with the first team, but all that might not benefit the Zimbabwe national team.

We are currently sanctioned by FIFA and are hoping that a certain group of gentlemen, who admitted that they ‘slept on duty’ before the SRC took over, can save our football through an emergency general meeting slated for next month.

As we watch in agony other countries making use of the international break to strengthen their respective national teams whilst also waiting for that ZIFA Council indaba, we will be subjected to the gloomy Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.

To say the local top-flight continues to backslide by each passing day is a generous assessment. It’s worse than that.

Our league is one of, if not the most poorly-marketed football competitions in the world, which probably explains why fan turnout is incredibly low, but we continue to deceive ourselves by blaming the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

Even before the novel virus came into existence, when was the last time a PSL game attracted at least 20 000 fans? A real 20 000 fans, not the numerical counting a certain comedian masquerading as a politician, subjected Zimbabweans to recently.

In a country where we beg for everything, including clean water and refuse collection, we also have to beg for the PSL media department to provide us with basic things like the league’s top goal scorers chart.

This is perhaps the only top-flight league in Africa, where not even a plastic trophy is reserved for the man of the match- a serious indictment on the growth of the game.

Just before midnight on April 14 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank a few hours later. Zimbabwean football is about to follow suit.