Tighten your seat belts, folks

HARARE - Gateway High School, set in the tranquil suburb of Emerald Hill in Harare, will be remembered in months to come as the place an entire nation’s dream started.

Gateway was in splendid condition on Monday morning as Zimbabwe’s football players went through their paces on the perfectly manicured training facilities offered by the school.

The drama that had been engulfing Zimbabwean football away from the game simply adds to the intrigue and wets our already appetite for kick-off day as the Warriors begin their quest to qualify for their first African Nations Cup finals in eight years.

Strikers Cuthbert Malajila and Tendai Ndoro, both fresh from a satisfying season in the South African league, could have no excuses about the state of the surface as they fired shots at goalkeepers Washington Arubi, George Chigova and Munyaradzi Diya.

Coach Ian Gorowa, who had little cause for complaint apart from a thinly-veiled swipe at Willard Katsande and Kingston Nkhatha over their failure to show up to training, brought training to an end hours later, five days before the flight to Tanzania to start the 2015 African Nations Cup qualifying campaign.

The sun was shining bright and all was well with the world. It was what you might call enjoying a good hearty laugh at an afternoon barbecue in the park with buddies over lots of ice cold drinks.

The Warriors are back in business on Sunday in the unfamiliar conditions of Dar es Salaam, and back in search of retribution for the heartbreaks of the last eight years they have failed to qualify for African football’s greatest football showcase.

And the players spoke so confidently about how they are determined to bury the ghost of the last eight years that has haunted Zimbabwean football lovers.

To a man, they also told us that they have learned the lessons of previous heartache, that the experience can only stand them well in the bid to qualify for a tournament that will be played in Morocco next year.

We need to be there, by the way. We need to qualify for the next Afcon qualifiers finals. Badly.

I will not look down upon our performance at the Chan finals in South Africa. Losing to Libya in the semis was painful, but that group of Warriors gave us hope for the future, and for us, the African Nations Cup is the real deal now.

We need some success in this country, and soon, and football provide the best opportunity. The country is ravaged by one crisis after another, and the economy seems hell bent on pouring more misery on the populace.

Life is not pleasant for a lot of people living in Zimbabwe these days. The bad economy is biting deep, the politicians seem to have no clue, and people’s spirits are at a low ebb.

We need a new reason to be cheerful, and that can start in Tanzania on Sunday.

We all fear for the future of the game in our country.

The future of Zimbabwean football is at stake over the next eight months. 

It would be calamitous not to be in Morocco next year. 

It’s hard to fathom the broader consequences of failure on Zimbabwean football. What will happen to the game and to that exciting generation of players we have, and a coach who has managed to draw together a tight unit of a team that gives us so much hope?

It will seem that, as things stand, that the only people who can stand in that Morocco dream are the people at Zifa if bungling tendencies manifest themselves again. But I bet even Zifa, this time, can also well imagine what will happen if results do not go our way.

There is no silver lining if the Warriors do not get to Morocco. Absolutely none.

Brace yourself for one hell of a ride.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.