Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
HIS army of critics says his biggest weakness is that he is completely divorced from the challenges of a national game he has dragged, using a unique remote-control management style, onto its deathbed in the past five years.
Voices of disapproval over the way ZIFA is being run have been growing even louder in the past few weeks, the latest big one being that of Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Thabitha Kanengoni-Malinga at the weekend.
ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube has developed his unique way of running the association either from his office, as was the case until January last year, or from his home, where all the board members have to go and meet him every time he wants to discuss something about the game.
Some concerned ZIFA board members raised alarm two weeks ago when they sent an explosive memorandum to Dube and his deputy Omega Sibanda, questioning the way the association was being run and how they have been turned into mere stooges, while chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze runs the show.
Dube and Mashingaidze have been the two high-ranking officials leading the ZIFA ship in the past five years. The 2015 Nations Cup finals currently underway in Equatorial Guinea have thrust the spotlight back on the ZIFA leadership after the Warriors crashed out in the preliminary round of the qualifiers and five months after Ian Gorowa quit as Warriors coach, the senior national team don’t have a substantive coach.
Qualifiers for the 2017 Nations Cup finals will get underway in June.
Bothwell Mahlengwe, a former Premiership footballer who is now a columnist for this newspaper, tore into Mashingaidze last week, highlighting that he was called a habitual liar by Gorowa and former Mighty Warriors’ fitness coach Gerald Maguranyanga and questioning why he continues to lead the association’s critical secretariat wing.
But there are some critics who blame Dube for providing the environment for Mashingaidze to run his solo show and the ZIFA president stands accused of lacking the passion, if not the presence, of being a national football leader. The ZIFA board are yet to meet in FIVE months, despite the fact that the game is in the intensive care unit and there were attempts this weekend for the board members to meet, at an urgent meeting, in Harare this week in the wake of the stinging criticism that has been laid on the organisation.
Incredibly, Dube is yet to watch the Warriors in action, at home or away since he was part of the VIP guests at the National Sports Stadium in June 2010, when Zimbabwe hosted Brazil in a high-profile exhibition match.
That game, which the Warriors lost 0-3, remains the only one that the national team played, with the ZIFA president in the stands, cheering their efforts, since Dube took over as the leader of the national game in March 2010.
There have been 47 international matches for the Warriors, since that game against Brazil, including friendly matches, and their leader has been a no-show in all these games.
The matches include SIX home Nations Cup qualifiers for the Warriors in the 2012 Nations Cup (THREE), 2013 Nations Cup (TWO) and the 2015 Nations Cup (ONE), and the ZIFA president hasn’t been there, by the side of his players, to provide the presence and, crucially the assurance, that they need that they are together in this journey.
There have also been SIX away Nations Cup qualifiers for the Warriors in the 2012 Nations Cup (THREE), 2013 Nations Cup (TWO) and the 2015 Nations Cup (ONE), and the country’s football leader hasn’t been there, by the side of his players, to provide that morale support.
When you add the THREE World Cup matches at home, for the 2014 World Cup finals, and the THREE World Cup qualifiers away from home, which the Warriors have played in the past five years, you will get 18 World Cup/Nations Cup qualifying games, which the national team has played here or on foreign soil, without the company of their leader.
Should Dube retain his way of doing business, and not watch the Warriors in action when the 2017 Nations Cup finals get underway in June, he could clock 50 games of internationals, without cheering his men from the stands, and that could be enough for him to get a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Even when the home-based Warriors went on a good run, during the 2014 CHAN finals in South Africa, and played 10 games, including the qualifiers, which included a magnificent 1-0 win over Zambia in their backyard, Dube was not there by their side.
The Warriors also reached the final of the Cosafa Cup, in Zambia where they tried to defend the title they won in 2009, but it was not enough to lure the ZIFA president to come and cheer them in their quest for glory.
The senior national team has faced 19 countries – Cape Verde (twice), Mali (three times), Liberia (twice), Guinea (twice), Burundi (twice), Angola (twice), Egypt (twice), Mozambique (twice), Tanzania (twice), Mauritius (twice), Zambia (three times), Morocco (once), Uganda (twice), Burkina Faso (once), Libya (once), Nigeria (once), Malawi (once), Djibouti (once), Rwanda (once) – in competitive matches and none of those games have been enough to lure the ZIFA president to come and cheer them.
The friendly international matches have included matches against Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Tanzania and Botswana.