Let's give Zim football a chance

HARARE - The agony of missing out on the just-ended African Nations Cup and the devastating effects of a world-famous fixing scandal have still not healed completely, but the Zimbabwean football fraternity need to show resilience in overpowering the pain to start afresh.

The friendly international between the Warriors and Botswana last week marked the start of a new era for the game in our country.

It is a new era in that it was the first match by the Zimbabwean national side following the official conclusion of a match-fixing scandal, which dominated Zimbabwean football for the better part of three years and probably cost the team 2013 African Nations Cup qualification.

It was also the first match for the team in the aftermath of the “disbandment” of an entire national team by Zifa following the Warriors’ failure to qualify for the recently-concluded Afcon finals.

I put “disbandment” in quotation marks because dissolving the entire national team was profoundly non-feasible given that among the squad which failed to qualify for South Africa 2013 were some of the country’s brightest stars and potential highly-rated prospects.

And that some of the players from that “disbanded” Warriors group found themselves in new Warriors coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels’ squad for the Botswana friendly makes Zifa’s move look like a great deal of fuss over nothing, but it presents the federation and Zimbabwean football in general with a great opportunity to put the past in the past, where it belongs, and give the game a chance.

Now that the Afcon is over and the pain of heartbreak has eased a bit, it’s time to rebuild and correct the wrongs of the past.

While there is no “quick fix” solution to the rebuilding exercise, we must aim at creating a solid national team capable of holding its own in the 2015 Afcon and 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Afcon qualification is a more realistic target. In fact, Zifa must make it clear that Pagels is expected to turn the team’s fortunes around and see them qualify for the continental showpiece having dismally missed the last four editions.

The mandate of the new coach and his team must be clearly outlined.

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