The 5-2 drubbing of FC Platinum by Young Africans of Tanzania in the CAF Confederation Cup last month should be a wake-up call to the Zimbabwe football fraternity.
It is against teams from other countries that we can tell whether our game is making progress or not.
Dynamos should have participated in this year’s CAF Champions League which could have been the barometer to measure where we stand in African club football.
Our national soccer team is rated among the weakest footballing nations on the continent. The same applies to the Mighty Warriors .
Dynamos have been the most dominant force in the country for the past four years. However, the record ends there, because they have failed to participate on the continent because they don’t have money.
This means that Zimbabwe has been deprived of the opportunity to assess itself in terms of club football — an assessment that could have come through the participation of our clubs in continental competitions.
Such a participation would have helped us test our strengths against continental giants, as well as South African teams — Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns which rely heavily on Zimbabwean players.
If the situation remains as it is, Zimbabwe will not have a single representation in African football in the near future.
Highlanders, one of the biggest clubs in the country, were banned for three years from taking part in African football after they withdrew from the CAF Confederation Cup because they did not have money.
When the biggest teams in the country cannot afford to take part in continental football, it means local football is not generating enough money to keep clubs running. It also means the clubs need financial support to take part in continental football.
Former premiership side Lengthens were relegated from the top-flight league after going through serious financial problems as a result of participating in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Motor Action also went down after they played in the CAF Champions League in 2011.
Monomotapa, who reached the mini-league stage of the CAF Champions League in 2009 folded as the financial demands of African football proved too much for them.
Although the financial effects of their participation were not immediately felt, they took their toll in the long run on those who were running the club.
The fact that some clubs are even failing to meet the financial demands of local games is clear testimony that our clubs cannot go it alone as the harsh economic environment bites harder.
Last season, CAPS United nearly failed to travel to Bulawayo for a game against Bantu Rovers. Only two weeks ago their English coach Mark Harrison revealed that the club had spent the whole night looking for $500 for fuel to take them to White City Stadium for the Independence Trophy.
CAPS United president Twine Phiri, who is also the Premier Soccer League chairman, is on record claiming that the PSL is aware of other clubs who have gone for close to three months without paying their players.
Within days of Phiri’s revelation, Dongo Sawmills players protested demanding outstanding salaries, and all is also not well at Buffaloes.
In that respect, such clubs cannot be expected to manage in Africa where a lot of money is required to sustain a strong challenge.
Delta Beverages have been open that they are sponsoring the league championship to make sure that football is played in the country and to open up avenues for other sponsors to come on board.
They have played their part. What is required now is for other players to join in the game and bankroll the sport at club level.
What we need are sponsors willing to take up the initiative and bankroll our teams in African football. That is, one sponsor for the CAF Champions League representative and another for the CAF Confederation Cup participant.
That is the only way we can guarantee our future participation in African club football. Can somebody help?
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