The mother body urgently needs to put its house in order and make sure that we qualify for the next tournament to be held in South Africa next year.
Participation in the tournament can at least soothe the pain of watching yesteryear minnows like Botswana hogging the limelight at our expense.
But it’s not just the disappointing Warriors that need to be attended to: our referees also need to pull up their socks.
It is most disheartening to note that in addition to the absence of the Warriors, there is not even a single match official to fly the Zimbabwean flag high at the Afcon tournament.
This leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the level of officiating in this country. I now understand why Zifa had to dump local referees and opted to bring South African and Zambian referees to handle the Mbada Diamonds Cup tournament from the semi-finals level up to the finals.
Out of the 39 match officials that have been selected to do duty in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, there is no Zimbabwean match official, with the exception of retired referee Felix Tangawarima who is now the Fifa referees’ instructor.
This, however, does not mean we do not have good referees in the country. Recently a number of our referees were recommended to the Fifa panel but have not been considered for the Afcon tournament.
Thabani Bhamala was introduced into the international scene in 2011 while the duo of Norman Matemera and Ruzive Ruzive qualified for international assignments in 2010.
Zimbabwe has six assistant referees and three of them—Bongani Gadzikwa, Abraham Manda and Tapfumanei Mutengwa—qualified in 2010 with the other two Salani Ncube and Edgar Rameck, having been recommended this year. Veteran Alfred Zindove qualified for the international scenes in 2002.
In the ladies category, Majo Rusina Kuda was recommended in 2009 while Pamela Chihwayi was recommended in 2004.
The country has two female assistant referees: Stellah Ruvinga who was recommended in 2007 and Rudo Nanhanga, who was elevated in 2010
Tangawarima and Brighton Mudzamiri were the ambassadors of Zimbabwean referees as they are the guys who have seen it all in terms of officiating at these international tournaments. The former at one point handled the Nations Cup quarter-final that pitted Nigeria and Senegal in 2000.
Mudzamiri was assistant referee during the World Cup finals in 2002.
But now we don’t know what has hit us as our match officials have missed the party in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Come on referees, take up the challenge. We want to see you there next time.
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