From the Norman Mapeza era to the topsy-turvy Tom Saintfeit and Madinda Ndlovu period, then back to Mapeza, before Rahman Gumbo’s stint that was succeeded by Klaus-Dieter Pagels, the Warriors have gone through a lot in the past three years.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
This is a period boldly marked by absolute failure, as the country’s flagship football team could not qualify for three major tournaments.
The Mapeza, Saintfet and Ndlovu eras saw the Warriors dismally failing to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), while Gumbo missed by a shade to book a place for the 2013 Afcon edition.
The woeful bid for the 2014 World Cup was shared between Gumbo, Pagels and current coach Ian Gorowa, who oversaw one dead rubber match against Mozambique.
Gumbo’s stint had two wins, three defeats and a draw, while Pagels’ tenure characterised by the German’s radicalism yielded only three wins, five losses and a draw.
The coming in of Gorowa has however created a fresh breath of air blowing across the country’s football landscape.
Unbeaten in six matches he has been in charge of so far, Gorowa has given hope to the football-mad nation, that there is light at the end of the tunnel with his new philosophy of a “culture of winning”.
Although these are still earlydays, worth noting so far is the rising Warriors brand that has seen a number of countries seeking association with Gorowa’s men.
A friendly international request by South Africa, followed by an invitation to take part at the West African Football Association Nations Cup tournament as guest participants is evidence that the Warriors are now being viewed as a competitive unit on the continent.
Now that Egypt can see competitive value in the Warriors, and ask for a friendly match to help them gear up for the final world Cup qualifier against Ghana, speaks volumes about Gorowa’s work.
This is a tremendous turn in fortunes from the past situation where the Warriors would court many countries for friendly matches, but would be rudely turned down owing to incompetency.
“We are moving in the right direction. We are very hopeful that football will continue moving forward,” said Zifa president Cuthbert Dube.
“Now we have a team doing well so let us all give it requisite support. It is now time that we abandon those ad-hoc arrangements, where we do things at the last minute. It is not good that an individual funds the national team, but we need more players on board. Our target is qualifying for the 2015 Afcon and with the way things are moving, I believe we will get there.”
With Zimbabwe making a third successive appearance at the African Nations Champions, Gorowa has already made it clear that he wants to get past the group stages for the first time.
The newly-established Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture has also given renewed impetus for better things ahead, and Dube hopes Minister Andrew Langa will give attention to football as is the case worldwide.
“We will give the new minister all the support that he requires,” Dube said.
“We have been crying out for this and we are delighted to have a new ministry that is dedicated to sport. We will furnish the new minister with a background of how Zifa operates and our plans and vision. We pray for good things to come.”
Last week, the Senegal Football Federation received 222 000 euros from its government for preparations ahead of this week’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Ivory Coast.
The money will also cover a training camp in Paris which started late last week.