National Teams General Manager Wellington Mpandare loves his job. The passion he exhibits in the conduct of duties, is unmatched.
By Lawrence Mangenje
Two weeks ago, with the writing clearly on the wall that the Warriors would not take part in the upcoming Afcon 2023 qualifiers, Mpandare was sending invitation letters to players and arranging flights, while clinging on to the hope that the national team will be part of the road to Côte d’Ivoire.
He sounded very positive, confident and excited, particularly in the context of trying to lure new players like Andy Rinomhota (Reading) and Reis Nelson (Arsenal), who are both eligible to play for Zimbabwe.
The former Gunners official, just like every football-loving Zimbabwean, then woke up to the news that the Warriors had been disqualified from the qualifiers, due to the fact that the Fifa ban imposed on Zimbabwe for government interference in the running of the game, had not been lifted as per Caf’s orders.
Mpandare is devastated.
“It’s like someone has deprived me of oxygen because football is what I live for,” he told Soccer24.
There are England born players in the Warriors fold, some of whom are young and had the option of choosing the Three Lions (England national team) over the Warriors and Mpandare admits they are now regretting that decision.
“We have shattered some players’ dreams, some of them are now regretting choosing Zimbabwe over England,” he said.
“For those who were supposed to represent us for the first time, its over, because they feel we are not organised.
“We were in the process of trying convince Rinomhota and Nelson, but well its over, we can kiss goodbye to that possibility,” added Mpandare.
Is this the final on the coffin of Zimbabwean football?
Veteran goalkeeper and former Warriors captain Tapuwa Kapini reckons it is.
“SRC AND ZIFA U JUST KILLED ZIMBABWEAN FOOTBALL. Instead of going forward we are going backwards ,corruption in football. Let those who understand football RUN FOOTBALL,” he wrote on microblogging site Twitter.