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Dearth of flair, death of football


With Darlington Majonga

FOR close to a decade administrators have borne the brunt of criticism over the dramatic slide in local football standards.



erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The Leo Mugabes, Morrison Sifelanis, Ignatius Pamires, Wyatt Mpofus, Raphael Phiris and Lovemore Msindos of this world have been roundly pilloried for dragging the most beautiful game into the abyss – and they should rightly be rebuked.


It’s revolting that politics, mismanagement, corruption and controversy have hogged the limelight for the wrong reasons at the expense of action on the field of play.


While the administrators have timidly and silently hit back at the media – because they simply can’t afford throwing stones when they live in glass houses – it’s rather pointless to challenge the beautiful game’s overseers to substantiate their counter-claims that journalists are culpable for the ever-plummeting standards of soccer we are treated to these days.


But midway through the domestic season, I have been left utterly convinced – if I was not – that the players themselves should take the biggest flak for the dearth of quality if not death of football.


A cursory look at the quality of players at the disposal of all the top-flight clubs in Zimbabwe is enough to prove that it’s not just about a club being led by an unrehabilitated man or all the administrative blemishes we have become so much accustomed to.


It’s sad when we get a picture of brats who can’t justify the incentives they feel shortchanged by scoundrels they have for administrators.


After all the pre-season hullabaloo we heard, we thought we were going to witness classy football – but it looks like Caps United are once again running away with the league title not because they are extraordinarily good but because their opponents are unbelievably inferior.


Sometimes it might be unfair to judge Zimbabwean football in terms of Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United, but these are the same clubs that set the benchmark for quality on the domestic scene. It’s a reality we cannot escape.


If we are to look at the other smaller and upcoming clubs, I’m afraid most of them have failed to go beyond the rave reviews they sometimes get – undeservedly too.


We shall not waste time picking on players most of us know are mere pretenders whose only claim to fame is getting jerseys at their clubs.


The first half of the season as well as the mid-season transfer market just prove how terribly bad things are for our soccer.


It’s easy to point to Cephas Chimedza’s move to Belgium as the best thing to happen in Zimbabwean soccer this year, but we only pray we won’t see the player back with his bags rather too soon for our comfort.


Chimedza aside, is there anyone else? Raymond Undi? No we won’t say anything.


Honour Gombami? Uuhh.


While we all wish Gombami the best of luck during his trial stint at English division two outfit Chesterfield, it’s disquieting that one of the best players on the domestic scene can’t attract the attention of bigger clubs. Worse still, the promising midfielder has to endure trials at a lowly club when other good players are directly signed.


It’s the same story with Energy Murambadoro, Zimbabwe’s first-choice goalkeeper. In his case though, the soothing factor would be the fact that historically it’s difficult for goalkeepers to make it in Europe.


Over a decade-and-a-half since Peter Ndlovu caused a stir when he was signed on by then English premiership side Coventry, all players we have had thereafter have been mere pretenders.


At best all we have seen are promising players – but disappointingly they never realised their potential. Others have been content with their mediocrity without putting any effort towards making themselves polished products.


Clearly the dearth of quality in Zimbabwean soccer should have more to do with the lack of commitment of the footballers themselves.


The other unforgivable setback is the forging of ages by players. It must be hard to develop “raw talent” in a 25-year-old when he is 18 on all his doctored documents. You simply can’t cheat age, which is why all those “youths” who exhibit “raw talent” at junior tournaments hardly realise their “great potential” – they will in fact be at their peak.


These are the same guys who after a couple of promising performances reward themselves with women and alcohol so much they forget they haven’t gone anywhere as far as soccer is concerned.


While we have had a plethora of excuses why our players are finding it hard to make it to top overseas clubs, it is alarming when most of our “top” players can no longer attract interest from the South African premier league.


It would even be embarrassing to boast Tapuwa Kapini’s pending move to South Africa’s Dynamos, when a few years ago there was “the great trek” of Zimbabwean players across the Limpopo.


Surely, something far from the sickly administration of local football is terribly wrong with the quality of our players.


What makes Zimbabwe’s plight more pathetic is how those players who were lucky to make it down south are now either excess baggage or struggling to renew contracts as the South African season readies to get into full swing.


There are so many of them that have flattered to deceive. Names like Alois Bunjira, Stewart Murisa, Tauya Murewa, Nqobizitha Ncube, Walter Tshuma, Rabson Muchichwa, Adam Ndlovu, Tinashe Nengomashe, Richard Choruma, Bekithemba Ndlovu, Thomas Svesve and Nyasha Chazika, to name but a few, quickly spring to mind.


It would be folly to claim that the South African clubs are “killing” the careers of our players when the same league has produced world stars such as Delron Buckley, Benni McCarthy, Quinton Fortune, Steve Pienaar, Shaun Bartlett and Sibusiso Zuma, to name but a few.


Kaiser Chiefs’ Zambian sensation Collins Mbesuma has courted the interest of many top English clubs, and were it not for a work permit he would be donning a Portsmouth jersey now.


So why then do our players struggle? And why can’t our players attract the attention of top clubs in Europe?


Players should take it upon themselves to prove they really deserve to be treated like the heroes they want us to believe they are – not that they should be starved though.


We should just stop forthwith propping up mediocrity and hope administrators as well make it conducive for the players to realise their potential without having to point a finger at anyone for their failure.


Well, while most of our football stars have been disappointing, we don’t know if they are as challenged as one reader wants us to believe. I didn’t say anything, and here goes the bit of humour:


Following are a few excerpts from interviews with some of our most celebrated footballing sons:


Dumisani Mpofu

Interviewer: Dumi, you really seemed to enjoy the game?


Dumisani: Yes, the game was very much delicious.

Memory Mucherahowa.


Interviewer: Memory, how do you feel about scoring such a beautiful goal?

Memory: I feel immediately!

Moses Chunga


Interviewer: So Moses, tell us about your family.


Moses: I have one kids. I also have two brothers. There is one in front of me and one behind me.

Cephas Chimedza.


This interview took place after a game that took place on Cephas’ birthday.


Interviewer: Firstly, Cephas we would just like to wish you a happy birthday.

Cephas: Thank you, thank you, same to you.

Francis Chandida.


Interviewer: Francis, you seem to have hit such a rich vein of form and you also seem a lot fitter. What is your secret?


Francis: In the morning I get up and I run away.

Musareka Jenitala


Interviewer: Musa, you have just played an amazing game to help your team win, where to from here?


Musa: I am going home.

Peter Ndlovu


Interviewer: Peter, those were three beautiful babies you put away behind the net. How do you feel?


Peter: Aah I am so ashamed, I just don’t like it when these women tell the whole world.

dmajonga@yahoo.com

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