|We are dedicated Warriors’ fans|
|Friday, 22 June 2012 21:24|
It has been a very good week — players reclaimed the back pages from the administrators, the Warriors kept alive their 2013 Nations Cup dream and our talismanic forward, Knowledge Musona, shamed the prophets of the devil.
Beautiful football, which is played on the field, rather than the ugly politics of football, which is played in the boardrooms, battled its way back into the spotlight.
The turnout at the National Sports Stadium might have been very poor, after a week in which the profile of the Warriors was again battered by innuendoes and conspiracy theories, but this couldn’t spoil the magnificence of that priceless victory over Burundi.
There was relief everywhere.
Relief for Musona, may God bless this true Warrior, after playing through the pain of a nagging injury, putting the interests of his country ahead of his career, and scoring the vital goal that took us through on the away goals rule.
All this happening after a week in which trigger-happy Zifa chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, who has seemingly converted himself into a fly-by-night spy, had shamelessly painted him as a mercenary.
Relief for Rahman Gumbo who finally tasted the sweetness that comes with winning a match in his second spell with the Warriors after three earlier games had ended in two defeats, including a demoralising one at home, and a draw against Mozambique.
Chances were high that his latest flirtation with the Warriors would have ended, if we had not won, in the same stadium where his horror unfolded, eight years ago, when the Super Eagles feasted on us and spelt the end for Rahman.
Dressed in an all-black outfit for that game against Burundi, Rahman gave away this image of a man who had come for his funeral, the day they would dig six feet deep to secure him away from the Warriors, and when he turned it around with that priceless victory, the relief on his face said it all.
One particular image, the one we published in this newspaper when Rahman was discussing the events of that afternoon with Mbada Diamonds executives, Patience Khumalo and George Manyaya, said it all — a man struggling to adjust to the reality that, finally, he was at peace with himself and the fans who had booed him two weeks earlier.
Relief for the fans who had dreaded it could all end in disaster, right in the stadium they call their home ground, throwing into disarray all the plans that had been made for the short trip, across the Limpopo next year, to support a team that means everything to them.
That the Warriors will be the most supported team, should they qualify for the 2013 Nations Cup finals, isn’t in question, given the indifference towards Bafana Bafana by fans in South Africa who, after being spoiled by the magic of the World Cup just two years ago, are unlikely to find the Nations Cup something very appetising.
Relief for all the players who played a part in that victory because, in a poisoned climate like the one we are operating in, they never knew what next would have come from Zifa, in terms of accusations, with the season of madness really in full swing in our game.
You could tell the pressure of the load that the boys were carrying on their shoulders throughout this match, playing their game in a pattern of mediocrity, struggling to even string three passes, choosing all the time to push responsibility elsewhere and where there used to be a swagger, there was lifelessness.
Relief for Willard Katsande whose foolish reaction, in head-butting an opponent who had lured him into a trap, lacked professionalism as much as it betrayed the cause of his teammates, who had to fight for more than an hour, in a difficult game, one man short.
You could see that he would have turned into the fall guy, if the Warriors had failed in their mission, with the conspiracy theorists reminding everyone who cared to listen that this was the reason they implicated him in the Asiagate scandal before the Independent Ethics Committee came along and freed him from the nightmare.
Relief for Zifa because, as obvious as the fact that December 25 is Christmas Day, the association would have borne the brunt of the full fury of the fans’ anger and would also have been subjected to intense and widespread criticism from the media for their stubborn insistence to keep the game at the National Sports Stadium.
You could see the journalists sharpening their pens in the newsrooms and gathering for the feast because, given the way the horrible pitch at the giant stadium played out on Sunday, Zifa would certainly have been slaughtered for going against reason, to take the game to Rufaro.
Relief for the football writers because, beyond all the printed words, this is also a group of dedicated Warriors fans because, in their chosen profession, this is the only team here in Zimbabwe that they have where they can bring out all their emotional attachment to this game without being accused of bias.
We, too, also love to grace the Nations Cup finals to cover our boys and not this business, as has been the case in the past six years, where all that we cover are the other teams, the other countries, the other players, the other coaches and the other fans.
On Father’s Day last Sunday, the Warriors provided a perfect present for all of us and the rainbow of relief that swept through the darkness of emotions wrecked by that depressing loss at home against Guinea and the two points we dropped on the road against Mozambique.
We all felt it because, as the South Africans used to say during the 2010 World Cup, IT WAS HERE.
Lessons From Our Sunday Success
One of the big things we learnt was that when we are united, we can be quite a force and we can win matches, playing on the worst surface imaginable in world football, even when we play a game for more than an hour a man short and, along the way, turning out one of our worst performances ever.
Of course, our critics will tell us, again and again, that we played little Burundi but you have to remind them, when you get a chance, that mighty Egypt were beaten in their backyard, two days before we played the Swallows, by little Central African Republic.
We were awful on Sunday, as horrible a team performance as I have seen the Warriors play all these years, probably worse, in terms of a show, than that day when we lost to Swaziland in the same stadium under the guidance of my long-time friend Wieslaw Grabowski.
But for all our poor show that day, so terrible we even ordered our ball boys to disappear midway in the second half as we sought to protect our one-goal lead, the bottom line is that we won the game because we were all united behind that cause.
As a nation, we took a stand that we would not be dragged into the world of conspiracy theorists and we backed Musona, when he badly needed it when his commitment to the cause had been questioned, and he repaid us with the goal that kept us alive.
Given our performance on Sunday, I have tried to figure out the possibility of us scoring, if Musona hadn’t played, and I have to be brutal by saying that it certainly would not have been possible.
Our united front, the journalists who backed Musona, the fans who also did that through a flurry of letters and text massages in the mainstream newspapers and on the social media sites, the coach who chose to stick with him when an option had been thrown to him to drop him if he wanted, the team doctor who worked tirelessly on him to pass the late fitness test, won us the day.
But while Musona got the all-important goal, there was a stellar performance from old warhorse Esrom Nyandoro, who felt the warmth of the crowd when they cheered his strong performance, and skipper Tapuwa Kapini was as inspirational as he has always been and, when it mattered most, he made a stunning save to keep us alive.
The fans didn’t turn on Rahman Gumbo, even though they had rained missiles on the pitch the last time the coach walked out of the giant stadium, after that defeat against Guinea.
They didn’t target Rahman, even though he had returned from Maputo with a point, when they all wanted three to kick-start our World Cup campaign, and his team had also failed to score for the second straight game.
Instead, the fans embraced their coach, in a show of unity that this team wanted, and this gave him the freedom to express himself the way he wanted and on Sunday we saw a lively Rahman.
We saw a Rahman who didn’t feel like he was in hostile enemy territory but one who was at home, at peace with himself, because he felt the love of the crowd and he kept pacing up and down his touchline.
Questions remain about his tactics and when we went one man down, surely, we needed to change our shape and that we didn’t, and kept Burundi in the game, was a product of our coach’s questionable tactics.
But to rebel against him, in this big game, and to remind him of his shortcomings every time he stood up to send out instructions, would have been a rebellion against the nation.
We had to support him because he was there representing us all and that the fans did so, had a huge bearing in us grinding the result that we got which gave us a lifeline in this tournament.
There was something else.
When you read the Sunday papers, all of them highlighted the importance of the Warriors winning the game, they pumped up our boys into battle and, for a change, there were no words like saboteurs in the sports pages of all the newspapers.
It might not have triggered a rush for tickets for the fans to fill the stadium to capacity but it worked wonders on our boys, who read a lot of these newspapers, and it painted this picture of a nation that was united in its one goal to win that match.
Unlike in the past week, we didn’t hear reports of any challenges that the Warriors faced in camp — being held hostage in their hotel, being inconvenienced when they were ordered to go to the airport for a flight that never was or reports of them being locked out of their training ground.
Everything clicked, the whole machine functioned smoothly, and football won instead of the politics of football.
Mashingaidze Owes Musona An Apology
I was delighted to hear that Mashingaidze attended the Warriors’ after-match party hosted by their all-weather friends, Mbada Diamonds, at their team hotel on Sunday night.
It was good that the Zifa chief executive was there to see the beautiful sights and hear the lovely sound that come with victory and mingle with the boys in their hour of triumph.
Nothing beats winning, Mash, and I hope you saw, in all those happy faces, what a victory means and every face that you saw at that party on Sunday represented thousands of happy fans around the country charmed by the Warriors’ victory.
But I also think Mash should have used the opportunity to take Musona for a personal chat and tell the talismanic forward that, come the next day, he would phone every newspaper and radio station and apologise for everything he said about him in that moment of weakness.
That is what true leaders do.
We can’t get it right all the time but it’s a virtue, a great quality, for one to acknowledge the mistake that he made and to say sorry when the time comes for that.
You earn a lot of respect, even from someone who would have been gravely wounded by your actions, if you summon the courage to tell them, at the right time and moment, and I feel Mash needed to do just that to our Golden Boy.
It’s wrong for us to just forget about what Mash said simply because Musona scored against Burundi and we won because the BIG question is, what would have been the story if the Smiling Assassin hadn’t scored or, worse still, missed his chance?
Mashingaidze also took an aim at us when we questioned the wisdom of having the Warriors play at the National Sports Stadium, given the poor state of the pitch there, and also the fact that they don’t feel the love of their fans as is usually the case when they play at Rufaro.
But, interestingly, now that the National Sports Stadium experiment has gone terribly wrong, Mash is singing a different tune, something that we were telling him before the game against Guinea.
Just read the following:
Mashingaidze And The National Sports Stadium
Thursday, May 31, 2012, Before The World Cup Qualifier Against Guinea
“The report we got from the (Zifa grounds) committee is that once the areas which are being attended to are complete it can host the match. However, we are imploring the relevant authorities that the pitch should be maintained as non-sporting activities are affecting it.
“We have advised the players, through their technical team, that we cannot change the venue now as it will attract a penalty from Fifa.
“WE HAVE TO GET INTO THE CULTURE THAT IT IS OUR HOME GROUND AND THE NATIONAL SPORTS STADIUM WILL HOST ALL THE HIGH PROFILE MATCHES. WE HAVE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION THAT IN THE INTEREST OF SECURITY THIS PLACE MEETS INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS.
“RUFARO DOESN’T PROVIDE SECURITY FEATURES AND THE TRANSPORT FLOW THERE IS TERRIBLE.”
Tuesday, June 12, 2012, Before The Nations Cup Qualifier Against Burundi
“THE COACH AND THE TECHNICAL TEAM HAVE BEEN UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT FOR THE RESULTS AND THE ISSUE OF MOVING GAMES TO RUFARO AS THESE PEOPLE (SUSPECTED MATCH-FIXERS) HAVE BEEN TRYING, SEEKS TO DIVERT ATTENTION FROM THE REAL ISSUES.
“THE MATCH AGAINST BURUNDI WILL STILL BE PLAYED AT THE NATIONAL SPORTS STADIUM BECAUSE WE HAVE IDENTIFIED THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM. PEOPLE WANT TO MAKE THE TECHNICAL TEAM CANNON FODDER AND WE HAVE TOLD THEM (COACHES) TO REMAIN FOCUSED.”
Tuesday, June 19, 2012, After The Nations Cup Qualifier Against Burundi
“IF WE ARE GOING TO PAY SUCH HIGH LEVIES, IT ALSO DEFEATS THE PURPOSE OF STAGING BIG MATCHES AT OUR BIGGEST STADIUM.
“But we are going to appeal to the Ministry of Public Works to review this and possibly refund us. IF THERE IS NO REFUND, THEN WE WOULD HAVE TO RECONSIDER OUR POSITION BEFORE OUR NEXT ASSIGNMENT IN SEPTEMBER.
“IN TERMS OF CONFORMITY TO ALL OTHER STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS, THE NATIONAL SPORTS STADIUM FITS THE BILL BUT THE PITCH IS IN SUCH A TERRIBLE STATE YOU REALLY WONDER WHETHER IT WARRANTS SUCH A HUGE CHARGE.”
Excuse me, Mr Mash, isn’t this what we were saying when we said take the games to Rufaro even before the Guinea game?
The Callisto Pasuwa Madness
A militant section of the DeMbare fans turned against Callisto Pasuwa on Wednesday after the team’s lifeless show as they plunged to a shock defeat against Harare City.
I watched that game and I have to say that the Glamour Boys were horrible all afternoon and only came to life when Takesure Chinyama was brought in midway in the second half.
Denver Mukamba, for all the impression he made in his cameo show for the Warriors, was poor on Wednesday and did a Willard Katsande when he was sent off for an unnecessary foul while carrying a yellow card.
Interestingly, both Mukamba and Chinyama could move from Dynamos when the Super Diski vultures come hunting in our backyards in the next few weeks and it’s wise for DeMbare to begin planning for a future without the two.
But the Glamour Boys have survived such big personnel movement before and only a fool will bet his house saying they won’t be a force without Chinyama and Mukamba because, as is always the case with Dynamos, something usually happens.
However, to target Pasuwa now as the problem, simply because the team is struggling for consistency, is as sick as it can ever come.
Yes, the Glamour Boys aren’t firing and the coach has to do something about it but this is the same man who was the architect of that spectacular smash-and-grab raid that took the league championship away from Motor Action and FC Platinum and made DeMbare champions for the first time in four years.
This was the man who won the premier knockout tournament on the scene last year when he grabbed the Mbada Diamonds Cup after beating FC Platinum in the semi-finals and the Mighty Bulls in the final.
Come on guys, he deserves a little bit of respect and it’s good that club chairman Kenny Mubaiwa is sticking with his coach.
CAPS United’s chiefs weathered the storm, when their fans rebelled against Sean Connor during a difficult spell, but now they are reaping the fruits of their patience and the Green Machine is now being mentioned when people talk about probable champions.
Pasuwa has exceeded expectations at Dynamos and, given the quality of players he is jugging around with, you have to give him a bit of respect.
Give him time, please.
Smile, Star FM Is Here
Oh, yes, Star FM goes on air from Monday and if you are one of those people who were feeling being let down by the radio coverage of sport in this country, you now have an alternative.
Steve Vickers, that seasoned sports journalist, is the head of sport at the station and, after all these years covering sport for BBC, you can be assured that you have the right man for the job.
That Admire Taderera, a veteran sports journalist, is the head of the station, also speaks volumes about how much your sporting interests will be taken care of.
I was chatting with Vickers the other day and he told me they will bring a new dimension to radio coverage of sport in this country and, oh yes, you will also hear live football commentary of your PSL games and updates of what is happening at Division One matches.
Now, that’s radio for me.
Maneta — New Word In English Dictionary
Maneta . . . pronounced man-eta (verb), maneterly (adjective), manetaness (noun): Meaning — too stubborn to see the truth; Synonym — Foolish, unwise: Use — (i) Denver Mukamba must be maneta to have committed that foul sitting on a yellow; (ii) Mashingaidze knew the pitch at the National Sports Stadium was in bad shape but maneterly ordered the Warriors to play there; (iii) Willard Katsande was such a maneta to get that red card against Burundi: (iv) Roki was told not to retaliate but out of manetaness, he did just that and lost US$300 000.
To God Be The Glory!
Come on Star FM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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