Is the Zifa-SRC impasse the only problem we have in Zimbabwean football?

thumb image

While the 2022 Population Census enumerators visit our homes and ask us weird questions as they have been going, let us also count something-the problems affecting our football, particularly the national team.  

Zimbabwean football is currently banned by FIFA from international competitions for ‘third party interference’, following the suspension of the Felton Kamambo-led Zifa board by the country’s sports regulatory body, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).

That being said, is the ZIFA-SRC impasse, which culminated in the FIFA suspension, the only problem we have in Zimbabwean football? Certainly not! 

The poor state of stadiums in the country

One cannot talk about the game of football without talking about stadiums, because that is where the game is played. 

While the nation is praying that somehow FIFA accepts the outcome of the Zifa congress extraordinary general meeting and lifts the suspension for the Warriors to take part in the Afcon qualifiers next month, let us not forget that no stadium in the country is allowed to host international matches. 

What that simply means is that if by any chance a miracle is performed and the Zifa congress convinces FIFA to lift the suspension, the national team will play its home matches outside the country. 

That is also a hurdle in the quest for the SRC to lift the suspension on the Zifa board because they would be shooting themselves in the foot. It will be embarrassing on the part of the Kirsty Coventry-led Sports Ministry and the SRC if the Warriors play home games outside Zimbabwe.

With that in mind, will they (the SRC) lift the suspension?

Continuously thinking that AFCON qualification is an achievement

18 years after our maiden AFCON appearance in Tunisia, we still naively believe that qualification for the continental showpiece is an achievement yet it’s not. 

That myopic thinking is the reason some of us are satisfied with just qualification, and not progression to the knockout stages of the competition. 

We have normalized just adding up numbers at Afcon, so much so that being there is enough.

We continue to sanitize failure by claiming that we are still learning, even though this year’s poor showing in Cameroon, was our fifth Afcon appearance.   

As things stand, even if water is turned into wine and the Warriors take part in the qualifiers and book a place at the finals in Cote D’Ivoire, the possibility of the team getting knocked out in the group stages is the same possibility the sun has of rising tomorrow morning.

Monopolization of the national team 

Zimbabwe is perhaps the only country in the world where no matter how off-form certain players can be, they will always find their way into the national team. 

Certain individuals are called national team players by default, not by how they will be performing at that particular time. 

In South Africa, great players like Thembinkosi Lorch, Itumeleng Khune and Themba Zwane are no longer part of the Bafana Bafana setup. 

If those players were Zimbabweans, they would first be on the list when the national team is selected, and if a player like Lorch would retire, a ‘delegation’ would be sent to him. 

As long as we continue to select players based on reputation rather than on form, we will never achieve anything. 

Simply select players based on how they will be faring, not the location of where they play their football or the history they have in the game.