|I have my reservations about Rahman Gumbo as Warriors coach and they haven’t been changed by the spectacular events at Rufaro on Sunday|
|Friday, 14 September 2012 21:44|
Where does one really start in this golden weekend where Zimbabwe football bathed in bright sunshine after months dominated and blighted by off-the-field turmoil?
Thanking Rahman Gumbo for an excellent job at Rufaro last Sunday after his platoon of Warriors turned on the finest half-hour show by our national team in an age?
Saluting Khama Billiat for an excellent individual show, so good it was a fine piece of art, which powered the Warriors to a stunning 3-1 victory over an Angolan team that has always been tough opponents for us?
Taking a bow to old warhorse, Esrom Nyandoro, for using all his experience, when we had been pushed to the ropes, to become the fortress that provided us with a safe house from where we repelled everything that the Palancas Negras threw at us?
Hailing skipper Tapuwa Kapini for putting his career on the line, in the service of his motherland, by taking the brave decision to play on Sunday despite carrying a serious injury which needed to be operated on a mere three days later?
Thanking King Peter, the greatest Warrior of all-time, for providing a calming influence on that technical bench, thanks to the experience that comes from having been there and done that, in fact on two occasions, not only as a player but as the captain of our national team?
Saluting emerging ’keeper Ariel Sibanda for his composure and passing the test by playing his part, when he was thrust into that sensitive position of keeping goals, after Kapini had been injured, and helping his Warriors cross the line on Sunday?
Taking a bow to the fans, who sacrificed a lot to watch this game where the cheapest ticket was pegged at its highest price, for a football tie in the history of this country, and supported their boys throughout the contest — in the good first half we dominated and in the tough second half when we were on the ropes?
Hailing Zifa and their president, Cuthbert Dube, for taking a decision that was consistent with an association that wanted its flagship team to be successful and taking this game to Rufaro, where the players said they had a better chance of winning, instead of sticking to the National Sports Stadium?
Thanking Jonathan Mashingaidze for putting the interests of the team ahead of anything else and, for a refreshing change, not dragging us back to those dark days when a build-up to such a huge game would be dominated by shadowy issues of surveillance and not what was happening in camp?
Understanding Zifa, when they say they were wrong to charge US$10 for the cheapest ticket because this gamble clearly back-fired, rather than taking it as an excuse to savage them in a week where there were more things, which they got right, than what they did wrong?
Forgiving Nyika Chifamba, who became a source of countless jokes last week including one where some claimed he sent a “please call me back” to Knowledge Musona in his request for the striker to come home for national duty, because for all the challenges he faced, his heart was with his Warriors and noone can question that?
Thanking Benedict Moyo for assembling a technical committee, which helps the Warriors’ coaching staff, and, for a refreshing change, seeing something good that this veteran football servant has done for his country instead of the negativity that always stalks him?
Saluting Mbada Diamonds for their sponsorship of the Warriors which ensured that our boys were just focused on playing their game and not distracted by damaging issues, as in the previous encounter, where they would find their hotel rooms locked because the owners of the hotel were holding out for outstanding payments?
And, crucially, Patience Khumalo and her colleagues at Mbada Diamonds, who have overnight transformed themselves into a principal player on the domestic football scene, dangled a carrot for the Warriors by giving them a financial incentive to win this game.
They adopted the Warriors, provided the kit for the boys and their technical team, provided the daily allowances they received in camp, paid for their hotel, gave them an appearance fee for playing for their motherland and challenged them to win and collect a handsome payout.
I don’t know really where to start and, worse still, where to end it but what I know is that this has been a golden week for Zimbabwe football and you could see the light filtering through the darkness and you could feel the warmth comforting you, and giving you hope for a better tomorrow.
Where only a week ago we were an island of hopelessness, now we were an ocean of hope and we had all been converted, overnight, into a nation of believers who, for the first time in seven years, were so sure that their national football team could dance, on the big stage, with the heavyweights in the game on the continent.
Where only a week ago South Africa looked so near, yet so far away, now it appeared so close we could hear the Gautrain roar in Gauteng, hear the wild painted dogs bark in Kruger National Park, feel the power of the Indian Ocean as its waves pounded the Durban beach and see the beauty of Table Mountain.
This was us, this super nation called Zimbabwe, together as one, united behind our national team and deriving a lot of pride in seeing them doing very well on the grand stage and, like what the Catholics would say, sezvakanga zviri pakutanga (during the ’80s), nazvino (what we have now), nakarekose (Dream Team) nemisi isingapere (forever Warrior), AMEN!
Rahman Gets It Right When It Matters
I have my reservations about Rahman Gumbo as Warriors coach and I will be clear to say that they haven’t been changed by the spectacular events at Rufaro on Sunday.
I’m just but one of 14 million Zimbabweans, if the estimates of our population are anything to be trusted, and it doesn’t necessarily mean what I feel is what is right and should therefore carry the day.
But my reservations about Rahman shouldn’t cloud my analysis as and when he does well, and on Sunday he did not only do well but he was simply excellent as he plotted Angola’s downfall.
Neither should my reservations also dilute the love that I have for the Warriors because this was a romantic attachment that was started at birth and the bond cannot be shaken by the identity of the man who is in charge of the team.
That’s why, on this blog last week, I took the following position and publicly conveyed it to the readership:
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 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.
Rahman deserves an Oscar for the way that he plotted the downfall of the Angolans and anyone who believes that he didn’t do a pretty good job on Sunday is certainly an enemy of our national game.
He made his critics, and they include me, eat humble pie but the refreshing thing about it is that, at the end of it all, we were all celebrating because Zimbabwe had won and that’s all that mattered.
It needs brave and genuine critics to remain standing, rather than slip into hiding, when someone you doubt proves you wrong on the grand stage and I take my hat off for Rahman for what he did on Sunday.
That 30-minute spell, when the Warriors got their three goals and could even have harvested more with a little bit of luck, was one of the finest half-hour moments for our Warriors in history.
He knew he needed the element of surprise to carve open those Angolans and he found it in the form of Khama, a player who had struggled to scale the heights in his previous games for the Warriors since his return from Asiagate isolation, but whom Rahman thrust into a leadership role in a masterstroke.
The last time he had played Archford Gutu in the first team, the former DeMbare man had barely survived the first 45 minutes after a very indifferent showing.
But this was a Rahman who wasn’t looking at the past but one who would pick his team on what the boys were doing in training and Archie was thrust back into the starting XI and justified his coach’s faith in him by scoring one of the goals for the Warriors.
He knew Kapini was injured but he wanted him in his camp because, as skipper and with his experience, he brought a feel-good factor to the squad and he threw him into the starting XI on Sunday because this wasn’t the moment to gamble, especially with the key position of ’keeper.
Once we had taken a 3-1 lead, when Kapini was injured, Arial could come in because, psychologically, the mindset of the players had changed and the game itself, from a Zimbabwean perspective, was now easier to handle than when it was goalless when it started and the pressure, even in the stands, was evident.
Of course, there is room for improvement and Rahman will have to find out why a different Warriors turned out for the second half and produced a performance that was so awful they were barely recognisable as the team that had played in the first 45 minutes.
There are issues in midfield that still need to be sorted out and, when we were on the ropes, it became clear that the defensive shield that is supposed to protect our backline, wasn’t as strong as we wanted it to be and there was a highway for the Angolans to operate through.
There are issues about the central striking role and Takesure Chinyama, for all the chances that he has been given, appears lost every time he wears that gold and green national jersey and Sunday was another forgettable day for him in the Warriors colours it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify his presence in the team.
There are issues about our lack of width and penetration, on the right side, and they need to be sorted out before we plunge into battle against the Angolans in their fortress.
Advantage Warriors But . . .
That the Warriors have the advantage in this showdown is there for everyone to see but that away goal that we conceded could come back to haunt us big time because it gives Angola a lifeline.
To their credit, the Angolans played well in the second half and their coach must be wondering why he decided to put his two key men, Djamal and Manucho, on the bench in Harare given the impact that they had when they were introduced.
Djamal, in particular, was impressive with his touch, movement and pace and duly scored their golden away goal.
Angola know that all they need is just two goals, and that isn’t asking a lot from a home team, and preventing the Warriors from scoring in the process, and they know we haven’t scored many goals away from home.
They know we have issues about how to approach that game — do we put a lot of emphasis on defence and, like Chelsea in their Champions League success story, also take our team bus with us onto the field to park it in front of our goalkeeper?
Or do we slug it out with them, punch for punch, and see who comes out of the bruising contest as the winner?
The fact that our regular ’keeper and inspirational skipper, Kapini, won’t be available in Luanda, after being operated on in Durban on Wednesday, is also another big issue that we have to sort out.
That this game is still very much alive is not even questionable and Djamal’s goal pushed Angola into the contest when life had been blown out of their lungs by Khama, with a little bit of help from his friends, in the first half.
But the Angolans know that they will be under intense pressure, from their home crowd, in a tough encounter and that opens a window of hope for us and the more that this game will go on, being goalless, the more the hosts will be frustrated.
Crucially, this Angola team also is going through a crisis because they haven’t been winning as many games as their fans would have wanted.
In their last six competitive games in the Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers, Angola have only won one game when they beat Burkina Faso in Malabo at the 2012 Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea.
They haven’t won a game in their last five Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers, drawing three matches against Sudan, Uganda and Liberia and losing twice against Cote d’Ivoire and Zimbabwe.
The Angolans’ last victory at home came more than a year ago when they beat Kenya 1-0 in a 2012 Nations Cup qualifier in Luanda, to qualify for the finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon on the away goals rule.
Their last competitive game in Luanda was a 2014 World Cup qualifier and they were held to a 1-1 draw by Uganda.
This is no longer the Angola of the Golden Generation of 2006, coached by Gonclaves, who took the team to the World Cup finals that year, with a helping hand from Jose Mourinho, who used to give him tips every time he wanted to name his team.
The Special One’s wife was born in Angola.
This Angola team, as we showed at Rufaro on Sunday, can be beaten and it depends on how we plan for the decisive showdown in Luanda but we are so close, yet we can also get so far away, from making it to South Africa.
Let’s All Pray For Denver
Yesterday, we carried a sad story about the silent battle that a brave young man called Denver Mukamba has been fighting in his personal life and, immediately, it touched a nerve in a capital where this guy is the superhero because of what he has done for Dynamos.
I like Denver a lot because of the artistry that he brings to the football field and two weeks ago this blog was dedicated to his emergence as a genuine soccer star.
There were questions from some of those who responded to the story, especially music promoter and DeMbare fan Josh Hozheri, whether it was ethical for Warriors’ doctor Nicholas Munyonga to make public Denver’s condition.
It’s an emotional subject that can never be won but Denver’s condition is not life-threatening and, crucially, now that it has been disgnosed at this level, he can get all the specialist treatment and support that he requires to be able run the whole course in his chosen career.
He is not the only high-profile football star who has some medical issues to sort out and that should provide the comfort because even Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates star Andile Jali was recently sent to the United States for tests after it was diagnosed that he has a heart condition.
Aston Villa skipper, Stiliyan Petrov, is currently on the sidelines as he fights acute leukemia, after being diagnosed last season, and he has been receiving such overwhelming support from the Villa fans that recent tests show that the cancer is in remission.
It’s very likely Petrov would never have found the heart to fight so hard if he had battled the disease alone and quietly.
Nwanko Kanu is considered one of the greatest African football players of all-time and he also needed specialist treatment for him to keep playing the game that gave him his name after doctors in Italy detected that he had a heart condition that required surgery.
We all know that Kanu did not only bounce back but played for so long at the top that he was still at Portsmouth last season.
Now leukemia and heart conditions are even worse issues than asthma but they have been beaten by footballers before and there is no reason why Denver should not make it to the very top.
All that this magician requires is the support, especially from the fans who consider him to be a superstar, so that he knows he has them on his side and the rest of the fight will be easy.
What he needs is a standing ovation, when he runs onto the pitch at Rufaro tomorrow, from the fans who love him and he will know that they are in this journey together.
Yes, as The Herald said yesterday, Let’s All Pray For Mukamba.
What Football Means To Other People
Bulky Arsenal fan, Chris Webber, has celebrated shedding a massive 150kgs in a year by buying his first ever team shirt.
Webber (54) from Clacton, Essex, said it was “a dream come true” to fit into the Arsenal kit.
It came after he had a gastric bypass operation last April and he slimmed down from 222kgs to just 72kgs.
He said: “Arsenal is the love of my life so finally being able to wear the strip is a dream come true.
“Up until last month it was impossible to find a shirt that fit me. I’ve never even been to the Emirates because the seats are too small.”
To God Be The Glory!
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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