Guard recent gains jealously

JOHANNESBURG - If there is one thing Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa has been credited for, it is rise of Zimbabwe football on the international arena.

Not that most of the good fortunes of the game is purely because of his ascendancy into power.

Yes, the businessman has played his part in stabilising the ship but signs of the country rising from the deep slumber were long there even during the era of Cuthbert Dube.

But somehow aided by his big talk, Chiyangwa has presided over a number of national teams qualifying for some major global and continental tournaments.

The women national team which together with Mzansi’s Banyana Banyana were the only two teams from Africa to qualify for the Rio Olympics and the two sides will also represent their respective countries at the African Women championships in Cameroon in November.

We all know that the Warriors have become the talk of the continent as they are being tipped to take Gabon 2017 by storm if they convert their Afcon qualifying form into the championships themselves.

Such has been the good fortune of the Zimbabwean game that most of the national team players have been on top of their game especially those plying their trade in Mzansi.

Captain Willard Katsande has had some marvellous two seasons with South African giants Kaizer Chiefs.

A lot has been said about Khama Billiat’s exploits at reigning league Absa premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns where he was voted the Best Player in Mzansi for the 2015/16 football season.

Evans Rusike of Maritzburg United was voted the KwaZulu-Natal side’s best player and is being sought after by some big clubs from Gauteng with other rumours saying he might be leaving for overseas soon.

Cuthbert Malajila, has moved to Wits University where he is guaranteed regular game time, is among the galaxy of Zimbabwean stars who have caught the attention of various coaches due to his dedicated work ethic.

From a country which had grown to fame because of match-fixing scandals, the sudden good fortune should nurtured and in Chiyangwa, the game seems to be suddenly in good hands.

Yes, some might argue that the flamboyant businessman has added very little in the sudden turn of events but his timely interventions cannot be washed away.

Suddenly, most national teams are meeting their obligations in a country where financial resources are at a premium.

It is unfortunate that little is being done to promote the U20 and U17 as these are the future for any successful national team.

But funds permitting, these are some of the areas, together with aggressive grassroots development programmes, that Chiyangwa needs to attend to.

The Zifa boss who has put some screws on the notorious betting cartel which was plunging the country’s game into the quagmire and must continue to keep guard on match-fixing individuals.

Just like any evil system, the betting syndicates are not going to rest in bid to continue having their businesses flourishing.

Who would ever think these notorious individuals would still be alive after the Asiagate?

But a few months down the line Chiyangwa and his people managed to nip in the bud those that wanted to plunge country’s game back into to the dark ages again.

With finances being the biggest problem of Zimbabwe’s game, these syndicates will keep on trying their luck.

They are likely to come up with new tricks and will dangle bigger carrots in front of greedy officials and naïve players.

We don’t want the Zimbabwe game which has been on the gradual rise to be taken back again. This is the only sport which has managed to unite the country devastated by political and economic crisis.

Chiyangwa has so far shown his heavy handedness in dealing with this matter but the Zifa boss needs a helping hand from everyone interested in seeing the country do well on the continent and eventually on the globe.

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