What's wrong with our football?

HARARE - Zimbabwean football lovers have joined their peers across Africa who are enjoying the Africa Cup of Nations being hosted by neighbouring South Africa.

Tragically, with Zimbabwe having failed to qualify for Africa’s biggest showpiece as has become the norm, local football followers have been forced to lend their support to other countries in the competition.

What makes Zimbabwe’s absence at the Africa Cup of Nations even more painful is the fact that countries generally considered lesser footballing nations like Cape Verde and Ethiopia are having a good run in the competition.

Cape Verde has been attacked by many football followers for taking to South Africa many players whose claim to the citizenship of the small island nation appears far-fetched, but there is no denying the fact that they are in South Africa and we are not.

The reality we have to face is that a small country with just 500 000 citizens is playing attractive football at Africa’s biggest football stage while Zimbabwe, with over 13 million people, is not part of Africa’s first-class 16 football nations.

Cape Verde’s presence in South Africa is a slap in the face of Zimbabwe. As a nation we have for a long time fooled ourselves into believing that we are a good footballing nation yet evidence on the ground proves otherwise.

Not so long ago, Zimbabwean footballers could easily make the grade in the South African Premier Soccer League but that time is long gone.

Zimbabwe’s reigning Soccer Star of the Year, Denver Mukamba had to undergo a gruelling trial stint for him to earn a contract at modest South African football side Bidvest Wits.

Such is how low our football fortunes have sunk.

The time has come for us to own up to our football shortcomings and make a practical action plan that will ensure that we won’t just be cheering other nations but our own when the next Africa Cup of Nations comes around.

Zimbabwean football is in a mess. Our club football, which is supposed to provide players to the national team, is in a sorry state due to the dearth of sponsorship.

Clubs have been forced to do away with junior structures no wonder why the quality of players being produced nowadays is poor.

It is clear that without funding, our desire to be regular participants at the Africa Cup of Nations finals will remain a pipe dream. We have to, as a matter urgency, acquire sponsorship packages for both our football clubs and national teams to improve our competitiveness. - Staff Writer

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