Zim has lots of lessons to learn from SA

JOHANNESBURG - For the umpteenth time, Zimbabwean soccer fans will be watching the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations from the comfort of their homes.

This is not of their liking. The Warriors not only did not qualify to go to Equatorial Guinea but were not even good enough to qualify for the group stages having been knocked out by Tanzania, of all countries.

That led to the instant dismissal of Ian Gorowa leading to one asking whether this was a remedial move; but the Gorowa matter is the discussion of another day.

What makes Zimbabwe’s situation so dire and unacceptable is the fact that on either side of the country’s border, north and south, namely Zambia (north) and Mzansi (south) will be going to the tiny central African country as not only among the 16 countries but among teams to watch.

Zambia made a late comeback to beat Portuguese speaking Mozambique and Cape Verde in successive matches to seal a berth to the country where they made a sensational success on their way to winning the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Rejuvenated Mzansi, meanwhile, went through the group stages unbeaten and were unfortunate not to register a famous win in Nigeria in their last qualifying encounter which was academic, despite playing with 10 men for the last 20 minutes.

If the qualification of the two countries is not disappointing enough for Zimbabwe, a country reeling from economic hardships and perpetual political strife among other things, here is a scenario which must make the big honchos at Zifa to get concerned and take note.

Both Zambia and Mzansi had their senior women national teams qualifying for the African Women Championships in Namibia.

Both countries presided over their national Under-20 sides to the Caf Junior Championships scheduled for Senegal next year.

As if this is not enough to show the gap between Zim and its two neighbouring countries, while the Zimbabwe Under-17 national team were no were to be seen, Zambia and South Africa’s Amajimbos will be among the eight African countries vying for the title in Niger next year.

And both countries’ senior men’s team will be on the plane to Equatorial Guinea as Zimbabweans brace themselves for again being couch potatoes and rooting for other countries.

Zifa bosses must ask themselves serious questions like, for how long they will subdue fans to torture.

Yes, they don’t get into the pitch to play but are they doing enough to make sure structures are in place for the teams to do well.

South Africa’s success was always on the horizon taking into consideration the planning and amount of resources ploughed into the game.

Under Danny Jordaan, Safa has set the benchmark on the African continent.

The country’s football governing body has made remarkable achievements on its commercial aspect in which it completed a number of sponsorship deals with Nike, Avis, Motsepe Foundation, EY, GPI/Burger King in addition to long term existing partners such as Castle/SAB, SASOL, TigerBrands, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Tsogo Sun.

The association also concluded a massive R1 billion sponsorship deal with new entrant Siyaya TV for all its future broadcasting activities.

Safa has also recently acquired a R100 million Technical Centre which will be the National Football Centre for the country, housing the training, education and research facilities. The centre will benefit everyone involved in the game at every level.

The Technical Centre will, among other things, be national home for coach education, in time producing better players, cutting-edge sports science and medicine and a training home for all our national teams.

It will be a catalyst for increased grassroots participation.

Zifa must borrow these models. They cannot allow fans to live in despair forever.

After all sport, and soccer in particular is our only salvation. On any other front, we have really become a laughing stock of the world.

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