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What next for Zimbabwean sport in 2015

On the morning of June 2 last year, football followers woke up to read damning screaming local newspapers headlines that had beamed pictures of a stranded Ian Gorowa.

BY MICHAEL MADYIRA

The former Warriors coach Gorowa was seemingly trying to come to terms with the calamity that had hit the nation following Zimbabwe’s first round exit from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers at the hands of minnows Tanzania the previous day.

The gaffer had sealed himself as the worst ever Warriors coach.
The National Sports Stadium had been filled to capacity, arguably the highest match attendance since Sunday Chidzambwa’s time between 2002 and 2003 or the Dream Team era, showing massive support for Gorowa and his men.

A hurt nation hurled Gorowa, his technical team and players with missiles while vociferous insults flew from every corner of the stadium.

That underlined a low ebb for Zimbabwe’s football year in 2014.
A new page has turned and the year 2015 has just started.

For the ordinary fan expectations are that the national game improves as this month and February they have to play spectators to the Afcon tournament to be staged in Equatorial Guinea.
After that, they are hoping for smiles, joy and jubilation watching their national team when the 2017 Afcon qualifiers commence late this year.

But it seems their hopes would once again be dashed as Zifa have already bungled on the Under-23 project they embarked on to build a new national team whose foundation would be youths.

Under-23 coach Kalisto Pasuwa requested for a training camp last month but Zifa did not honour his wish and setting a base at their own Zifa Village would not have cost much.

Pasuwa had intended to take advantage of the off-season break which saw clubs inactive since December 1.

Zifa could however hide behind the fact that they prepared the Under-23s three friendly matches.

It is widely understood and appreciated that the association is severely cash-strapped but so far there is no 2015 itinerary for the Young Warriors.

Great to note is that Pasuwa’s team has shown potential to become a formidable side especially after holding their own in an international friendly match against the Morocco senior last November as well as beating Swaziland.

The Under-17 also exhibited potential after settling for silver at the Region V Youth Games and with the team being kept together, they could be a great side.

There is much anticipation on the Premier Soccer League which traditionally begins in March.

Dynamos, Highlanders and Harare City have already confirmed their new technical teams while CAPS United have been quiet.

So far from what has transpired this pre-season, all eyes are on Dynamos’ returning coach David Mandigora with football followers keen to see if he can carry on from where Pasuwa left by guiding the Glamour boys to a fifth straight league title.

The fans are also eager to see if new Highlanders coach Bongani Mafu would end the nine year wait for the league crown as well as breaking DemMbare’s dominance.

“I do not want to talk about Dynamos and I will never do that. Highlanders are going to play 15 Premier Soccer League teams so why mention one team?” said Mafu.

“However, I expect a good turnout of the fans and for us as coaches and players to represent the club properly. We want to redirect the ethos of the club. Of course it is a mammoth for me taking this job but everything is feasible to human beings. We will try our best because impossible is nothing.”

An experienced-laden Harare City technical staff led by former CAPS Taurai Mangwiro is also under scrutiny if they can deliver
A gloomy 2014 also characterised cricket following a horrible showing in the tour of Bangladesh late last year.

Straight from ducking bullets in the mountains, Afghanistan came and pilled misery on Zimbabwean cricket with some surprise wins.
But a ray of hope has started filtering following the appointment of World-Cup winning coach Dav Whatmore as coach.

Also the roping in of former players who participated at the highest level of the game has brought some a fresh wave of optimism.

Former Minister of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture David Coltart who is an avid follower tweeted on New Year’s Day hailing the developments at Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC).

“Whilst it is still early days I call on all Zimbabwe cricket lovers to throw their full support behind Wilson Manase (ZC chairman) as he reforms the game,” said Coltart.

The national team heads for the World Cup in New Zealand and Australia and that would be Whatmore’s first test.

Boxer Charles Manyuchi was the biggest story last year and he is expected to carry on shining after setting a very high record for himself by successfully defending the WBC welterweight title.

He is set take a shot at the vacant IBF Inter-Continental welterweight title in Equatorial Guinea next month although his opponent is yet to be confirmed.

Qualification for the 2015 Davis Cup Euro/Africa Zone Group II by the Zimbabwe tennis team has seen the country bracing up for an intriguing year.

Zimbabwe qualified for Euro/Africa Zone Group II in September in Egypt.

Takanyi Garanganga, Benjamin Lock, Mark Fynn fired the country to this stage and are chasing to reach the World Group played in by Zimbabwean tennis legends Kevin Ullyett, Byron and Wayne Black.
Zimbabwe will be hosting Bosnia/Herzegovina in March evoking memories of the golden era.

The Sevens rugby team will keep on pushing for core status as they take part in the Hong Kong Sevens in March.The 15s side, the Sables will also be trying to bury the agony of failing to qualify for this year’s rugby World Cup by doing well in the Africa Cup.

Athletics has always been disappointing with several athletes failing to illuminate the global stage.

As Zimbabwe heads for next year’s Olympics, few athletes look promising to grace the global sports fiesta.

The 2012 Games saw Zimbabwe failing to send track and field athletes for the first time ever in their Olympics history.
The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe is yet to release the 2015 calendar.

Much work might be in developing athletes who were discovered at the Region V Games as well as identifying rural talent.

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