Warriors: 10 steps forward, 20 backwards

HARARE - If there is one thing that football “mad” Zimbabweans cannot talk about with authority and confidence, it is the consistency by their beloved Warriors.

There are many times that they have been taken to the “Seventh Heaven” and also, in equal measure, condemned to hell, as the performances of the Zimbabwe senior men’s soccer teams have been anything but unpredictable.

This is why a strong start to the 2019 Cameroon African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers — a comprehensive shellacking of Liberia at the beginning of this month — was greeted with so much satisfaction by thousands of Zimbabweans who believe that we have been our worst enemies in slowing down the Warriors’ progress.

And at the end of the Lone Star 3-0 drubbing, caretaker coach Norman Mapeza, couldn’t have summed it better.

“I think after some years this was our first qualifying game playing at home and I think we took advantage of that.

“I think we have built a strong foundation going forward and the most important thing now is to be consistent, let’s try and keep this team as it is.

“But obviously, I am just an assistant and maybe in the next match there will be a new coach but my advice to whoever will take the place is to keep this team and probably include one or two guys who were not available,” an ecstatic Mapeza said after presiding over Liberia’s walloping .

The key message from Mapeza was to keep the identity of the team and focus on consistency.

After carefully analysing the final squad that is set to perform duty at the impending Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup in South Africa, I am really left disappointed by many things.

Chief among them is the fact the bulk of local players, if not all of them, who were called up for

the Liberia tie have not been included in the Cosafa squad.

It is understandable that those that ply their trades away from the Zimbabwean league, especially in South Africa’s Super Diski and Europe, have not been called up because Cosafa tournament appears outside the Fifa calendar.

Of course, some of the players drawn from these leagues need recuperation from exhaustive seasons during their off-season breaks although we have Knox Mutizwa, Eric Chipeta, Mitchell Katsvairo, Ovidy Karuru and George Chigova in the Cosafa team.

But there is no excuse for dismantling the team of locals assembled by Mapeza which was blended with foreign-based players to form the identity of the team likely to do business in the Afcon 2019 qualifiers.

Already, what the coaches and Zifa have failed to heed is the call for consistency.

A look at the team that has been assembled for Cosafa shows total disregard for consistency and instead, the coaches tasked with assembling the squad for this tournament — Sunday Chidzambwa, Lloyd Mutasa and Bongani Mafu —

appear to have just settled for appeasing the local premiership sides by not picking their best players.

This is really disconcerting and betrays the attitude that we have always had towards the Warriors.

For the trio, it’s a case of doing what they can in the here and now — never minding the next step for the Warriors as someone else would always pick from where they left — of course with a carte blanche to choose whoever they want for the next stage.

And when it comes to the grand stage such as Afcon and if the Warriors fail, blame would be always put squarely on the shoulders of the coach!

With this attitude, it is a case of making 10 steps forward and 20 steps backwards.

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