Robson Sharuko in CAIRO, Egypt
IT hasn’t been quite a few good days for Warriors — a California basketball franchise called Golden State Warriors, a retiring White House Press Secretary President Trump described as a warrior and a daredevil football fan on a transcontinental African road trip to cheer his Warriors.
From the basketball super team simply known as GSW, Sarah Huckabee Sanders leaving her role as White House Press Secretary in a choking voice to super fan Alvin “Aluvha’’ Zhakata getting stuck somewhere closer to the Horn of Africa, it has been quite a bumpy ride for them.
The Warriors of Golden State failed in their bid for a third straight NBA title after losing Game Six at home to the Toronto Raptors, who became the first non-United States franchise to win the title with a 4-2 victory completed in the early hours of yesterday.
Golden State could have tied the series 3-3, but their star man Stephen Curry missed a three-pointer, and with a number of key players missing through injuries, the keys to the locker room reserved for the champions were removed from them and handed to the Raptors.
It could be the end of this Warriors NBA dynasty, with so much speculation surrounding them now, and having won three of the four NBA titles, such a dramatic shift could be unbearable for those who have taken them to their hearts.
But, that’s the way life is, dynasties rise and dynasties fall.
And, for the fans of the football Warriors, the national team that represents this country, the expectation is that their rise into a football powerhouse after years of living in the shadows is actually beginning.
“I think if our boys don’t let the atmosphere affect them, they focus on their strength, we have a very good team than can take anyone at these AFCON finals by surprise,’’ said the team chief of protocol, Martin Kweza.
“I have a good feeling that we are building something special, we might not have the star names, but as a team we are solid and we can go places.’’
Quite a workaholic this Kweza fellow — he was with his team in Durban for the COSAFA Cup, made the trip to Nigeria for that friendly international, arrived with them here for the final leg of their AFCON preparations and was at the Cairo International Airport in the early hours of yesterday to receive the latest batch of Zimbabweans coming here.
And so was the Minister Plenipotentiary at the Zimbabwean Embassy here, Eddie Chizema, as humble and hard working a diplomat as any one is likely to find in foreign lands.
There is an air of expectation in the Warriors camp, the players don’t seem intimidated by the huge assignment of having to take on the hosts in the first match, and one gets a feeling they are — just like Andy Ruiz Jr ahead of his battle against Anthony Joshua — waiting for the moment to shock the world.
There are things that these Warriors now just do quietly, like the recruitment during some of the qualifiers, of Panashe Mundondo, a Swansea-educated sports scientist and performance analyst whose innovative ways were embraced by head coach Sunday Chidzambwa and helped them plan for the defining battle against Congo-Brazzaville.
Given all the challenges that have faced anything to do with warriors in the past few days, maybe our Warriors are the ones who have been entrusted with the responsibility to provide that transformation from the grim headlines to something positive.
Of course, nobody knows that, but once again, no one can also say that’s not the case with any certainty. That’s the beauty of life, just like sport, and until yesterday, the world didn’t even know Sanders was about to leave her job as White House Press Secretary after three-and-half years in that role.
But then she did and President Trump described her as a warrior.
“She’s a warrior, we’re all warriors, we have to be warriors,” Trump said.
Well, it then turned out, it wasn’t a good few days for warriors.
“I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you do not need to hire Sarah Sanders as a cable news commentator or politics editor,” wrote journalist Laura Bassett.
She was one of many who were thrilled to see the back of Sanders.
“Good riddance. She had the most important spokesperson job in the world and used it to lie repeatedly to the American people. I hope shame and stigma follow her the rest of life,” Matthew Miller, a former justice department spokesperson, tweeted.
But, amid all this, please spare a thought for Zhakata and his fellow daredevil Both Msila, the Bafana Bafana fan, better known as the Bloemfontein Celtic super fan, who have been trapped on the Kenya/Ethiopia border for two days now.
The duo didn’t have e-visas as demanded by the Ethiopians and when after the intervention of some senior diplomats and donation of some money from a Good Samaritan, the electronic platform they were given to use kept failing.
“We embarked on this journey knowing we are bound to come across such challenges, or worse. But not even this setback could dissuade us from standing (for) our conviction,’’ tweeted Zhakata, now clearly the number one Warriors fan.
“We are resilient soldiers and our courage is unbending. I wish to exonerate @online zifa.
“My FA gave me all the required documents for the journey and even asked if there’s anything else, I said NO, if I need anything I will call. I haven’t called them and I’m so sure if I had called, they would have assisted.’’
What a week it has been for warriors.