|The Warriors barely win and have only been to two Nations Cup finals in 32 years but they are my team, all that I have, and all that I will ever need|
|Friday, 07 September 2012 21:53|
It’s interesting that I know what Andre “Dede” Ayew, the Ghanaian midfielder, thinks about their 2013 Nations Cup showdown against a plucky Malawi this weekend in Accra.
On Thursday night I heard the Olympic Marseille midfielder speak to Ghanaian reporters, during the Black Stars training session, in a clip broadcast on Thomas Mlambo’s weekly Soccer Africa magazine programme on SuperSport.
The irony of it all is that I don’t even know what Esrom Nyandoro, the midfielder who plays for my national team, thinks about tomorrow’s Nations Cup qualifier against Angola at Rufaro.
It becomes even a tragedy when you realise that none of the players in the Warriors squad is being allowed to talk to the local journalists and, by extension, to the fans who will be rooting for their cause at Rufaro tomorrow.
When an entire national football team is turned into a secretive boot camp, as if these are American navy seals preparing for a military mission in Afghanistan, you begin to wonder what the hell is going on really.
When we create a gulf, as huge as the Sahara desert, between our players and their journalists and, by extension, the fans who want to hear what their stars are saying in the countdown to such a big game, we are certainly losing the plot.
When all that happens in an environment, as chaotic as we have right now, when there are so many questions to be asked, not only about the big game itself, but also about preparations that have been at best, a joke, and at worst, an aberration, we are simply setting the stage for failure.
This was supposed to be the Warriors’ Week, because it’s the closest we have come to returning to the Nations Cup finals in six years, and everything else was supposed to be pushed into the shade, buried in the inside pages of the newspapers.
The headlines should have been screaming about our boys, from Tuesday to tomorrow, with Bhasera saying we will beat Angola, Esrom saying we aren’t afraid of the Panthers, Denver saying I’m ready to weave my magic, Chinyengetere saying the time has come for me to get the goals, stuff like that.
This was the week the players, using the medium of the national newspapers that give them a platform to talk to their fans, were supposed to whip the nation into a frenzy, to make this country believe that we can do it against these Angolans, to breathe hope into a project that we all want to be successful.
This was the week our boys were supposed to be bullish, to give their fans hope that the Negras Palancas can be termed at Rufaro, because this is our fortress, this is where we beat a better team called Mali the last time we played there and this is our home where we take no prisoners.
This was the week that our Warriors were supposed to be talking about how this huge match presents a bridge, for their national game to cross from an immediate past clouded by negativity, into a future that is bright and successful.
This was the week our boys were supposed to be talking about how this big game presents a grand opportunity for them to transform the image of the Warriors, battered at every turn in recent months and years by all sorts of negative links, into one that was a symbol of a team that its supporters could be proud of.
This was the week Oscar Machapa was supposed to be telling the nation that for all the challenges that he faces at a resurgent Moroka Swallows, where his appearances in the first team have become limited, he knows that when it comes to his country, he has the quality to play to a level so high that everyone will be proud of him.
We needed Archford Gutu to be telling the nation, in his own words, what he has learnt in his romantic flirtation with Swedish football, how it’s helping to shape him into a better player, for both club and country, and what, if any, the changes that the fans will see in his game.
Quincy Antipas has just come back from the cold, which included a moment when he said he was walking away from the national team before he changed his mind, and he arrived home this week after signing for one of the biggest clubs in Denmark, which suggests his stock in rising in that country.
So, in my humble opinion, this was his week to tell us what has been happening to him, as far as his football is concerned, what he thinks about the Warriors now that he is back in the fold and what he thinks about the Angolans.
Sadly, some people decided to silence the players, for whatever reason noone knows, and in the week that we should all have been united, for the sake of beating Angola, we had newspaper headlines on the back pages talking about conflict, between the journalists and the Warriors technical staff.
We had journalists devoting acres of space to tell the nation of the frustrations they have endured, in just trying to get a picture of what is happening in camp, and in the week that we were all supposed to be rallying behind Rahman Gumbo, because he is leading our cause, he was being heavily criticised in the media for the way he has turned the Warriors into his personal property.
So, a Zifa Appeals Committee ruling for a league match between Dynamos and Hwange, released this week, made back page headlines in all the newspapers because there was precisely very little coming from the Warriors’ secretive navy seals’ boot camp disguised as a national football team camp.
Are we really cursed, as a nation, that we just can’t do the simple things right when it comes to our football, our Warriors, and usually we bungle things whenever we have a very big game coming up?
Why do we always inflict these mortal wounds on ourselves?
The Warriors are All that Matters
I don’t want to hear what Dede Ayew thinks about the Ghana/Malawi game because it has no significance, whatsoever, to me this weekend.
The Warriors might not be as glamorous as the Black Stars but they are my team, all that I have, and all that I need.
Their image has been battered, in recent months, by all sorts of controversies but they still remain my team, all that I have, and all that I need when it comes to national football teams.
The Warriors’ barely win and have only been to two Nations Cup finals in the last 32 years, qualifying at an average of one final appearance in every 16 years, but they still remain my team, all that I have, and all that I will ever need when it comes to national football teams.
They were my team in the ’80s, when Stanley “Sinyo” Ndunduma was the heart and soul of this team, and somehow, for all the star quality that was at their disposal, they still failed to qualify for the Nations Cup finals.
They were my team in the ’90s, when Reinhard Fabisch came along and breathed life into this project and turned it into the Dream Team, and even though now and again they would come short, frustratingly at the last hurdle all the time, they remained my beloved team.
They were my team after the turn of the millennium, when Sunday Chidzambwa finally helped us cross the line and qualify for our first Nations Cup finals, and I felt so proud to be a Zimbabwean that unforgettable day when thousands of fans converged at Harare International Airport to bid the team farewell on their journey to Tunisia.
Images of that chartered Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767 taking off, all captured live on ZTV with Robson Mhandu providing the soundbite, the big plane soaring into the still night like a giant bird and then disappearing into the horizon, taking the boys on their historic journey for a dance with the football heavyweights of the continent.
These are special memories that remain embedded, in the minds of all those lucky to see the drama when it unfolded, forever.
I wasn’t here when the tournament started as I was with the boys in Tunisia but my wife keeps telling me of incredible days when people, coming back home from work, would be seen running in the high density suburbs, old men and old women, to try and watch the Warriors’ matches live on ZTV.
It was bedlam in those wild days and nights, she tells me now and again, and for someone who used to be so cold when it comes to football, her resistance to the magic that this game possesses started to be eaten away by the sights and sounds of the events of 2004 and, since the, she has been converted.
Because the Warriors are all that I have, all that we have, the chemistry and relationship between them and us needs to be better than what has been happening this week.
And, I’m not the only one who is saying so because Enock Muchinjo was very livid this week he used all sorts of words to express his disappointment and Lawrence Moyo, the H-Metro Editor, used the newspaper’s Editorial yesterday to reveal his disbelief.
“The Warriors felt — to many fans and journalists — like a foreign team in the week leading to their important first leg qualifier for the 2013 African Cup of Nations to be held in South Africa,” he wrote yesterday.
“The journalist has a huge role to play in as far as hyping a football match a week before the fixture (and) worldwide football stars, even as talented as Lionel Messi, talk to the media about the opinions about the game, the mood in camp, their feelings about the team’s chances…
“But the Zimbabwe football team has banished reporters from talking to the players ahead of such a crucial match. This leaves people wondering what the association (Zifa) or technical team are afraid the players would tell the nation (via the media).
“Everything is being speculated and this is all working against the national team as it is helping to (destroy) the excitement that would have been achieved had everything been in the open.
“The national team is public property and different from a football club in all respects.”
Given that fans are being asked to pay a record fee for the cheapest ticket tomorrow, just in the weekend leading to that time when schools open again and there is a heavy burden on every family’s purse, this was one game that needed a lot of marketing by the media.
But the journalists cannot write opinionated articles, day in and day out, especially when the stars themselves have come to town for the party, and what the fans wanted to hear this week was not what Sharuko or Kausiyo thinks about this game but what Bhasera, Denver and Chinyengetere think.
For when the game starts tomorrow, these are the soldiers who will be in the trenches, for those 90 minutes, for the cause of their fatherland, and was it asking for too much just to hear them speak about this game?
The good thing about clubs is that if you get fed up by Arsenal failing to win league titles and selling their best player to your major rivals, you can find comfort elsewhere and, for some time, you can go into the arms of Messi and his Barcelona or Ronaldo and his Madrid.
But it’s a different case when it comes to the national team because the Warriors are all that we have.
Foul-Ups, Bleeps and Blunders
I feel sorry for Nyika Chifamba because he is a genuinely hardworking man, fully committed to serve his country, and it’s sad that he finds himself overwhelmed by the challenges that the position of Warriors’ team manager demands.
In this age and era, to hear about requests for players being sent by telefaxes, as Chifamba was telling the journalists this week, tells the whole story of where we are getting it wrong.
Maybe, Winky D’s song, “Wakasara”, was penned for us and you can hear the lyrics now, can’t you, and they seem to fit the scenario, don’t they?
“Gore rino, usina bhachi ne jean wakasara seTarino
“Vachiri Analogue, Isu tava Digital
“Dzichiri ngoma, Isu tave magitare
“Uri typewriter, maNinja tatova maComputer
“Uri Phone yekuchaya, isu tava Phone yekubaya
“Paunotsvaga mureza we wireless, Isu taku dealer ne wireless
“Paunotsvaga munhu ne address, ini ne Facebook and MySpace”
As Knowledge Musona confirms, in his own words elsewhere in this newspaper today, the request for his services for tomorrow’s game only came in on Monday, long after the stipulated time frame that Fifa laid out for associations to make such requests.
The point is that if the request for Knowledge had gone last week, he would have been released by his German club after their game on Saturday and boarded the plane either the following day or on Monday.
Given that no such requests came, Musona had to go for training on Monday, together with all the players who are not on international duty, and, as fate might have it, that’s where he picked up his latest injury.
So, in other words, Knowledge would possibly have avoided the injury if he was on the plane, coming home on Monday, rather than on the training ground in Germany.
Interestingly, Chifamba was assuring the journalists that Knowledge was coming, when the reality on the ground was that he wasn’t, and that is not right when you are dealing with national issues.
Maybe we should give the Warriors’ team manager the benefit of doubt because, in Bujumbura during the qualifiers for this same tournament, and thanks to the administrative bungling, he saw Knowledge arrive a few hours before the game.
And, for good measure, he scored.
Maybe, just maybe, he was counting on that again but, in this age and era where you can phone virtually for free on Viber, Skype, Facebook, you name it, we should be doing far better in communicating with our players who are part of this digital explosion.
Just as well, it’s not only Knowledge alone who finds himself in this predicament because, given what happened in the past, his absence would have fed conspiracy theorists again.
How do we explain, for goodness sake, how we can’t send a request to Johannesburg so that Bidvest Wits can release Tinashe Nengomasha for this game?
Or did we send it to Kaizer Chiefs, as we used to do in the past, forgetting that Father has changed clubs?
If we don’t change, like Winky D says, tichangoramba takasara seTarino.
Why We Must Support Rahman
My reservations on Rahman aside, that is his technical issues and the way he has run the Warriors’ camp this week, I will be there in the stadium supporting him and his team because they represent something that is bigger than the small details that keep us apart.
They are representing our country and, when one does that, he needs to be supported and it’s a shame, isn’t it, that for all the commendable efforts Rahman put in to secure his best striker, Knowledge will not be in action tomorrow.
Rahman was brave enough this week to tell a weekly newspaper that he feels the US$10 price tag, for the cheapest ticket at Rufaro, will not work in his team’s favour because there is a possibility it will keep a huge chunk of the fans away from the stadium.
To say all that, publicly, against an association that has been known not to tolerate criticism, means that Rahman is seeing the bigger picture and, like all of us, he can see that winning tomorrow’s game, even if we run a huge loss, is more important than losing it and banking a million dollars after that.
“To be honest with you I don’t like the gate charges, it is just too much for many people we will not fill up the stadium, yet we should have made sure that we make life difficult for our opponents with a noisy crowd,” said Rahman.
“It looks like the people at Zifa are prioritising financial rewards at the expense of a comfortable win.
“The fans would have come in handy as our 12th man, I know very well that it would have worked in our favour but I will have to talk to Zifa when the responsible authorities come back.”
Now, this is a man who has a heart for this team and knows the importance of winning tomorrow and that is why, in the very first place, he chose to have the game at Rufaro rather than the National Sports Stadium.
Interestingly, in the countdown to the World Cup qualifier against Guinea when we suggested that Rufaro was a better venue than the giant stadium, we were dismissed by some people at Zifa as being members of a shadowy third force that was trying to destabilise the team.
It’s refreshing that what we were saying in June, and being labelled saboteurs for, is now being said directly by the coach and his players.
Rahman has been unfortunate in that his spell as Warriors coach has come at a trying time when he cannot call for the services of the best possible players who can represent this country.
But, despite all that, he continues to flash a smile and work very hard and, because he is representing us, we must support him because, if the Warriors win tomorrow, it’s our victory as a nation.
You have my full backing Rahman, go for it mate, it can be done because there is nothing special about these Angolans.
On a Lighter Note
Given all the challenges our boys have faced this week maybe a laugh will be a good cure. Just imagine if animals were on Facebook:
Inda: Has created a new event — End of year party at Chikurubi
Shiri updated his status: Ndapotswa ne rekeni, kumusha hakuite boyz dzangu
Chidembo: I’m always losing friends, I think my perfume also affects people on Facebook
Tsuro status update: Ah, nhasi kwapisa mhuka wee, zvinotoda ana sekuru Gudo vane built-in cap kuvhara zuva
Huku: Nxaa! I hate Nando’s
Huku: Added Chicken Inn as burial society
Huku: Posted on Auntie Rozi’s Wall — “Nhai Auntie Rozi, help me please, murume wangu Jongwe tine vana 20, 12 vekutanga vatokura zvekuwanikwa asi mufunge zvenyu iye Jongwe akurara navo futi.”
. . . Zizi and 40 others like this
Comment from Hangaiwa: You must pray sahwira zvinopera, even kwangu zviriko
Tsuro on Kamba’s wall: “Ana kamba you waste bundles mate, two hours just updating your status, too slow fellow.”
Mosquito updated his status: Nursing a hangover guys, a very good night yesterday, I downed lots of blood.
Tom is now friends with Jerry!
To God Be The Glory!
Come on Warriors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The only people mad at you for saying the truth are those living a lie. Keep saying it
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