Is the ZIFA Normalization Committee undermining national pride?

There is a very good reason why the national anthem is played prior to a football match involving a country’s national team.

The musical composition, whether long or short, fosters a sense of patriotism, pride and passion among players representing the country and fans watching them do so.

From a Zimbabwean perspective, the national anthem lift high the flag of the land of Zimbabwe/ Simudzai Mureza wedu we Zimbabwe/ Kalibusiswe lizwe leZimbabwe, written by Professor Solomon Mutsvairo and composed by Fred Changundega, has been played before every national team match since 1994.

When the anthem is played, players touch their hearts to show the profound significance of having to raise the country’s flag, with the dedication it deserves.

That is just how important the national team is.

There was a time when Peter Ndlovu —arguably the greatest Zimbabwean player ever, would arrive in the country from his base in the United Kingdom, less than three hours before a national team match.

Peter, just like his brothers Madinda and the late Adam, represented Zimbabwe on the international scene with distinction, as did the Blacks Wayne and Byron in tennis, as well as the Flowers —Andrew and Grant in cricket.

The importance of the national team can be discussed until the cows come home, but in sharp contrast, the ill-judged  manner in which it is being handled by the ZIFA Normalization Committee (NC) leaves a lot to be desired.

The Lincoln Mutasa-led administration has reduced the Warriors to just an ordinary team which should just fulfill matches for the sake of it.

Weird decisions, based on ignorance or arrogance and sometimes both, lack of proper planning, failure to adapt to the demands of modern football, sum up the diminishing Warriors brand.

Exactly two weeks before the Warriors resume their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign against Lesotho and South Africa, the country’s senior men’s national team has no coach.

The NC, for reasons best known to them, did not extend Baltemar Brito’s tenure at the helm of the national team, when the Brazilian mentor’s contract expired at the end of last year.

Brito managed two draws against Rwanda and Nigeria  and showed willingness to continue with the project, but a damning report written by the former Chelsea assistant coach, in which he was criticizing the manner in which the NC organized the two matches, reportedly incensed Mutasa and company.

Whilst in Rwanda, Mutasa lashed out at Zimbabwean journalists covering the two matches who had reported about the Warriors’ reluctance to train ahead of the Nigerian game, citing outstanding allowances.

The veteran administrator even went on to the extent of insinuating that his administration would capture a section of the press, saying “that’s why we want to create our own media.”

As far as the incoming coach is concerned, whoever the individual is, will have to fly to Zimbabwe, be unveiled through a press conference —that is if Mutasa and company are brave enough to face the media — acclimatize with Zimbabwean football and prepare for two World Cup qualifiers, all in the next 14 days.

The incoming coach, ahead of two crucial World Cup qualifiers, will have to make do with a squad selected by people who do not have the slightest clue as to his kind of philosophy.

The Warriors squad is already in place as innovational letters to players’ respective clubs should be sent at least three weeks before a national team assignment.

By selecting players without involving a coach, is ZIFA not taking the World Cup qualifiers for granted because surely the incoming coach’s first excuse if he fails will be “I did not select the players for the squad.”

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