Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA technical director Wilson Mutekede says they picked a number of positives from the two international friendly matches against Lesotho and Namibia which will be very useful for the national team when it resumes the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers early next year. Reports last night said the ZIFA executive, who are set to name a substantive coach soon, had decided to overhaul the entire technical team, with the axe also falling on team manager Wellington Mpandare.
ZIFA have appointed Sunday Chidzambwa as the caretaker coach of the Warriors exclusively for the upcoming CECAFA tournament. Zimbabwe accepted the invitation to play as a guest nation at the 2017 edition of the tournament to be played in Kenya between November 25 and December 9, 2017. The Warriors will join Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia
“Chidzambwa has vast experience as a national team coach, having earned Zimbabwe her first appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2004. The veteran coach has also enjoyed considerable success in the region, winning this year’s COSAFA Castle Cup hosted by South Africa in July,” said ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela. Mutekede was only holding fort for the two matches.
He was particularly impressed with the United Kingdom-based trio of Tendayi Darikwa, Kundai Benyu and McCauley Bonne. The trio of Darikwa, Admiral Muskwe and Bonne flew directly to London after their match in Namibia on Sunday, while Benyu, who returned with the rest of the players on Sunday evening, left for his base yesterday.
“Our objective that we wanted to achieve was met. The assessment of players came right, though we didn’t meet that one of getting good results. We wanted them to express themselves and see if they can fit and feature for the national team. The whole idea had disappointing results because people want results and want to feel good. But if you look at it from the assessment point of view, it went on well.
“We were there to integrate the players and see all of them. We saw a lot and got lessons from the two matches. The three players, in particular Darikwa, Bonne and Benyu, are players who, if given a chance, can make it in the national team. They are good players, who can be easily be integrated to add value to the team. Muskwe (Admiral) is good but young, and with maturity he will also become a very good player.
“Without exaggerating, they are quality players and age is on their side and they are hard working. What is important is to have them in camp on time when the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers resume next year,” said Mutekede The players still have to regularise their papers before they can turn out for the national team in competitive matches. The Government, through Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Minister, Makhosini Hlongwane, said they were committed to pull all stops to ensure these players would get all the help they need to regularise their status and represent the country in the competitive matches like the AFCON qualifiers.
The ministry has since dispatched a letter to ZIFA, which the players will use to help them process their documents before the AFCON qualifiers get underway next year. The challenges we had is we didn’t get enough time to prepare. Will do a report, if a new coach wants, he will have a look at it. That opportunity gave me first hand of what coaches go through with their players in camp. It’s imperative to experience these challenges as it helps with a better appreciation of their job,’’ said Mu- tekede.