Whoever is advising Zimbabwe Football Association president Phillip Chiyangwa knows his way around the corridors of football power.
The sight of Chiyangwa at the Warriors training ground and later with the Warriors for lunch was evidence enough that the businessman wants to convince the doubting Thomases that he is the right man to head Zimbabwean football.
Chiyangwa is learning from the past and wants to prove that he is just the opposite of his predecessor Cuthbert Dube, who in his five years in power never attended a single Warriors training session or match.
As former Bayern Munich coach Rudi Gutendorf said during his first visit to Zimbabwe in 1989, “The national team is the pride and display window of the nation. There is nothing that can thrill the nation more than the success of their national team in international football.”
That is exactly the power that the Warriors carry.
Chiyangwa seems to be aware of the power the Warriors yield, and is also aware that making the Warriors happy would endear him with the public that opposed his election to the summit of football power in the first place.
The Warriors need to be in their best frame of mind in order to succeed in the Africa Nations Championship (Chan) journey and the Zifa president is trying everything he can to make them feel comfortable before their departure for Rwanda.
He knows that success for the Warriors and other national teams will reflect heavily on his leadership and that it could also guarantee him another four-year term at the expiry of his current mandate in 2018.
Although he indicated that he would not be seeking re-election in 2018, having tasted the sweetness of football power in the one month he has so far been in office, Chiyangwa may be thinking otherwise.
So far, the man has played his cards well. Since he took charge, the Warriors have not complained about poor accommodation or poor food.
Neither are they complaining about the non-availability of transport to take them for training, or non-payment of allowances.
The Warriors are training in the best of pitches, unlike in the past when they were locked out of the National Sports Stadium — a facility owned by the government — and Rufaro Stadium — a ground which could have been negotiated for the Warriors to use for free.
Even coach Kalisto Pasuwa is this time around wearing a broad smile. He has received his dues, unlike in the past when he was always on strike demanding that he be paid what he was owed.
More importantly is the fact that the history-making coach now has a contract after operating for more than a year on an appointment letter only.
The truth is that as long as everything in the Warriors camp is in order, Zifa is viewed as doing its job efficiently.
Due to the Warriors’ stability factor, Chiyangwa is gradually beginning to win support. Even the once sceptical football public is beginning to sing another tune about the man they once viewed as a non-football person.
Although there was that boob when the coach was sacked on a Thursday and then reinstated three days later, Pasuwa would rather not talk about that but see to it that he enjoys the fruits of his labour, which he never did before.
However, the Zifa president should not get carried away. He should avoid raising spirits and then fail to maintain the momentum. What is happening with the Warriors right now should not be short-term. The Chan should just be the starting point.
There are other international engagements and more importantly, the Mighty Warriors camp for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, which will all demand more financial resources.
Qualification to the 2017 finals will make Chiyangwa the second Zifa president in the history of Zimbabwean football after Rafik Khan in 2004 and 2006, to take the Warriors to the continental football festival. That would be a plus for him ahead of the 2018 Zifa polls.
Unfortunately, Dube didn’t realise that the trick with the Zifa presidency depended on the success of the senior national soccer team. As long as you handle them well, you become a darling of many.
For Chiyangwa, as far as the Warriors are concerned, its so far, so good.
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