Is this the squad to take us to the golden era?

JOHANNESBURG – It might just have been another friendly match, but Tuesday’s Orlando Stadium encounter between Bafana Bafana and the Warriors left new coach Ian Gorowa with lots to smile about.

On the other end, the defeat by Zimbabwe left Bafana coach Gordon Igesund walking a tight rope amid calls that he must shape up or ship out.

While this was by far not the strongest Bafana squads Igesund could put together, it exposed the country’s lack of depth while offering Gorowa a massive ray of hope that with good guidance, this squad might have what it takes to do well internationally.

Thing is, Zimbabwe has always flattered to deceive when it comes to their continental expeditions and few critics will completely think that the fortunes of the Warriors have finally turned the corner.

Such has been Zimbabwe’s topsy-turvy international journey that at times they would look like world beaters and next, would deteriorate to alarming proportions. Across the continent, the Warriors are known as the biggest underachievers who have never realised their massive potential.

No wonder despite having beaten Zambia and South Africa in successive months, no one with smart money would risk placing his bet on the inconsistent Warriors.

But being a big fan of Gorowa, I want to put my head on the block and say, if we don’t go all the way with this team, we won’t have another opportunity again – not in the immediate future.

Against Chipolopolo, the team defied odds and scored a rare win at the Levy Mwanawasa cauldron where big names in the world of soccer have left the imposing venue with tails between their legs.

That was a morale boosting win for all good measure. Zambia are COSAFA title holders and were African champions until this year when Nigeria assumed that mantle. So when we talk of beating Zambia, we are talking of a country with a proven football pedigree and a country that has earned its stripes.

If soccer fans thought the Zambia win was a fluke, Tuesday’s swashbuckling performance must surely have awaken the doubting Thomases that this Warriors side should be taken seriously as a squad which wants to go places and debunk the notion that Zimbabwe will never achieve anything of note on the field of play.

The boys looked hungry from the word go and where as busy as bees, buzzing all over the bemused Bafana players. The 2-1 scoreline didn’t tell the whole story. Outstanding Kingstone Nkhata was guilty of some horrible misses though he compensated that by putting up a workaholic performance for the entire 90 minutes.

All in all, every player that Gorowa threw into the middle of the park carried his weight. One criticism for Warriors’ past squads was that a few players literally carried some of their teammates.

To succeed in modern soccer, there mustn’t be passengers in the team. Everyone needs to stand up and be counted. That was the motto on Tuesday.

My wish now is for Gorowa and the powers that be to keep the squad intact; play as many games as possible together and positive results will take care of themselves.

We can’t be a nation of laughing stocks in the sporting world. With this squad, being subjected to constant ridicule by other nations might be a thing of the past.

*Tinotenda Panashe can be contacted by e-mail at Tinotenda.Panashe@gmail.com, or sport@dailynews.co.zw.

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