Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
CAPE Verde’s rise to become the number one ranked nation in Africa this week has put into sharp context the Warriors’ fall from grace in the last six years. The Blue Sharks, who were once minnows on the continent, are now ranked as the most powerful football nation on the continent.
The Warriors, who are ranked 131st in the world, are on 42nd position in Africa.
Just five years ago, on 21 September 2011, just a month before Norman Mapeza and his Warriors travelled to Cape Verde, for a Nations Cup qualifier, Zimbabwe were the 14th best team in Africa.
Cape Verde were ranked a distant 20th on the continent.
The Atlantic Ocean islanders won the tie 2-1 and their march to the summit gathered momentum.
The steady rise of Cape Verde saw them reaching the quarter-finals of the Nations Cup finals in 2013.
There is hope, after the madness that characterised the previous ZIFA Board, that the Warriors will begin to improve and take their right place on the continent.
The new leadership, headed by Harare businessman, Philip Chiyangwa, appears to be prioritising the development of the game instead of concentrating on boardroom fights as was the case with the previous ZIFA Board.
Chiyangwa and his team, with a helping hand from their benefactor Wicknell Chivayo, have already ensured that the Warriors avoid expulsion from the 2022 World Cup finals by paying the debt owed to Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet.
Chivayo has also secured cars for Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa and his Mighty Warriors counterpart, Shadreck Mlauzi, while also committing himself to paying Pasuwa’s salary.
The Warriors will play back-to-back Nations Cup qualifiers against Swaziland this month for a place at the 2017 AFCON finals.
There is a spring in the Warriors step as most foreign-based players are enjoying a purple patch at their respective bases.
Mamelodi Sundowns forward Khama Billiat, Belgium-based forward Knowledge Musona, midfielder Marvelous Nakamba who is based in Holland and defensive pillar Costa Nhamoinesu, who is in the Czech Republic, have been doing well.