Word that the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) have sent invitation letters for the Warriors to play the Teranga Lions of Senegal and the Pharaohs of Egypt on the Fifa dates of March 19 and 27 is a move that should not be taken seriously.
By MICHAEL KARIATI
Although there is nothing wrong in trying, there is no way at this time of the year or anytime this year that the 2018 Fifa World Cup bound, Senegal — with their galaxy of international stars — would agree to a friendly match against the underachieving Warriors of Zimbabwe.
Neither would somebody serious at Zifa assume that Egypt with Mohamed Salah in their line up would agree to play Zimbabwe at a time they are seriously preparing to face the best the world has to offer at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The gap between the Warriors and the two sides is just too big that the Teranga Lions and the Pharaohs know that there is nothing to benefit from playing the Warriors and would instead prefer to play other top African teams like Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia, or European opposition.
The fact that the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers which were scheduled for March were postponed is proof enough that World Cup bound Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal and Egypt are at the moment not looking at African opposition but Europe as part of their preparations for the global festival.
Even the fading giants of African football, Ghana’s Black Stars, the Elephants of the Ivory Coast, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, or the Desert Foxes of Algeria are unlikely to agree to play a game against the Warriors
Even if one of them does agree, the chances are that they are unlikely to field any of their European-based stars but would instead turn to their locally-based players, something which might not be worth the game for the Warriors.
On that premise, it does not make sense to waste time on a project that is obviously doomed for failure when there are other opportunities elsewhere. The time being spent on trying to lure Senegal and Egypt, would better be used in trying to attract alternative strong opposition.
Instead of making unrealistic overtures, those at Zifa should cast their net on African teams who are on the same level with the Warriors or slightly higher. Teams like Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea, Zambia, Rwanda, Angola, Uganda, and Libya, fit into that profile.
What is important right now is to get the Warriors to play together under their new coach, Sunday (Mhofu) Chidzambwa. Mhofu is a man who does not want to be associated with failure and wants to take this opportunity to build a strong team capable of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Already a bit of ground has been covered by bringing in on trial UK-based Tendai Darikwa, Kudzai Benyu, Admiral Muskwe, and Macauley Bonne whom Zifa technical director Wilson Mutekede has declared they are good enough to play for the Warriors.
These players, however, cannot just gate-crash their way into the Warriors set up unless they prove themselves to Chidzambwa.
The only way that can be done is for Zifa to give Chidzambwa the games to experiment with the players — real quality games like facing Burkina Faso.
There won’t be a lot of expenses involved as most of Zimbabwe’s foreign-based players would be in the country on holiday — as from May — following the conclusion of both the European club football calendar and the Absa Premiership.
Those at Zifa should stop dreaming about Senegal and Egypt and at least be realistic. Zimbabwe does not belong in the same league with the Teranga Lions and the Pharaohs and local football authorities should take the Warriors where they rightly belong.
Burkina Faso reached the semi-finals of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, Cape Verde beat South Africa home and away in their World Cup qualifiers and Guinea have a good record in African football while Libya have improved greatly.
These are the teams, Zifa should be looking at, instead, of being, over ambitious.
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