Stanley Mutoya Special Correspondent
THE 2020 CHAN finals draw in which Zimbabwe were drawn in Group A together with hosts Cameroon, Mali and Burkina Faso is a potential banana peel.
This is not because of the talent endowment, or competitiveness of our opponents, but largely because of the levels of fitness between our team and that of our opponents.
It is known that the 18-team Cameroon Elite League runs from October to April, which means their leagues would be in Week 32 of 34 by the time the CHAN kicks off on April 4.
The Premiere Division of Mali both Group A (12 teams) and B (11 teams) would have just finished as it runs from August.
The 16-team Burkina Faso Premier League would have just concluded by the time the CHAN kicks off.
All these factors may be viewed as weighing against us.
Some will argue that our players will still be rusty and unfit while others will have just finished their leagues, or in the case of Cameroon, their league would be at its tipping end.
Incidentally, I strongly argue that these factors work in our favour.
As it stands, only our players would be injury free, fresh and well rested.
Zimbabweans may well be aware that most teams are in the thick of things with their pre-season training.
Granted, while they may, at the time of the CHAN not have slipped into the groove as the domestic season would have just started, from a physiological point of view, they will be competing largely against tired and fatigued, opponents whose marathon leagues would have already weighed them down.
That is where our advantage lies.
The second argument is that, the domestic leagues in Cameroon, Mali and Burkina Faso are not as competitive as the history of these countries may depict.
Take for example that the Cameroon MTN Elite One League has been dominated by Coton Garoua (15 league titles) and Canon Yaoundé (10 titles).
The Burkinabe league suffers from lack of public interest due to poor quality of the teams.
The Ligue 1 Orange Mali league is mainly dominated by three clubs Djoliba AC Bamako (22 titles), Stade Malien Bamako (21 titles) and AS Real Bamako (6 titles).
The league in Mali has not been spared by administrative challenges which eventually spill into the field of play, ultimately affecting the core business of the industry — football.
For instance, in 2017, competition started in early January but in the 6th round the government dissolved the football association on March 9 and the remaining matches of the round were abandoned.
When one analyses the above, and the fact that Zimbabwe is naturally endowed with a lot of talent, there is no reason to doubt the Warriors’ pedigree and latent capacity to propel to dominance in Cameroon.
The fact that we play the opening match against the hosts, is a match made in heaven, as the boys have an enviable task of silencing the vociferous home crowd.
Yes, Zimbabwe, this can and will be done!
Perhaps, let me take this opportunity to say a word or two to our newly unveiled Warriors coach Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic.
My dear Loga, welcome to Zimbabwe.
Welcome to the theatre of all football dreams, welcome to an expectant nation, welcome to the orchestra called the Warriors.
This orchestra is the only one we have. It has all the instruments intact.
Those that play the string family of the Orchestra — the violin, the viola, the cello and the double (string) bass are ready to make the strings vibrate by plucking them, striking them, strumming them.
Those that play the woodwinds (flute, the piccolo, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon and saxophone) are ready to press on different keys to produce different musical notes.
The brass family of the orchestra (trumpet, trombone, French horn, bass trombone and tuba) are ready to produce the sound or change the timbre of the sound and put the Indomitable Lions to the Warrior’s sword.
The percussion instruments can’t wait to make sound by striking, shaking or scrapping Mali, Burkina Faso or Cameroon out of the way.
Loga, this is our orchestra.
Conduct it with exuberance for us to serenade and drown in the greatness of its music in the way that we know how.
Zimbabweans do not hide their feelings, hold back or forgive any conductor who messes up with their orchestra.