HomeSportA litmus test for Zifa to up their game

A litmus test for Zifa to up their game

insidesport:with MICHAEL KARIATI

The US$500 000 that is coming from Fifa should be used wisely — and more importantly — without forgetting that the Warriors of Zimbabwe have big international engagements coming up.

The Zimbabwean team has crucial international assignments where they are bidding to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations finals for the fifth time and for the World Cup for the first time.

The Warriors are in the same 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group with Algeria, Botswana and Zambia, while in the run up for the 2022 World Cup, the Zimbabweans will battle it out with Ghana, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

Although the Confederation of African Football are still to announce the dates for the Warriors’ next fixtures, it is very important that the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) plan for tomorrow instead of living for today and forgetting that tomorrow will come.

Part of those Fifa funds or even half of it should be set aside for the Warriors preparations, allowances, and winning bonuses for their Afcon and World Cup assignments.

It is a fact that one of the reasons why the Warriors have not been performing to expectation has been inadequate funding as sponsors have not been forthcoming largely due to Zifa’s tainted image and the harsh economic environment.

The government too has not helped matters as it has never considered sport as a worth investment, preferring other industries instead.

Over the years, the Warriors have gone into battle without playing serious warm up matches as Zifa could not afford to either host foreign teams or send the national team to other countries.

On several occasions, the Warriors have also revolted against the national football federation over non-payment of promised bonuses with the latest being just before the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt. 

The Zimbabwean team nearly ruined the whole tournament after they threatened not to fulfil their opening fixture against hosts, Egypt — which was also the tournament’s opening match.

The same team also boycotted a presidential dinner just before their departure for the 2017 finals in Gabon under the coaching guidance of Kalisto Pasuwa.

These incidents came after the team had already qualified for the finals. But this should not be allowed to happen again in the run up to Afcon 2021 and World Cup 2022.

One thing that Zifa must realise is that all their shortcomings will not come up for discussion as long as the Warriors are well looked after and winning their games.

It is a fact that as long as the Warriors are winning, not many, will pay attention to whether the Felton Kamambo-led Zifa are making blunders or not.

So far, the Warriors are in good steady to qualify for Afcon 2021 with four points, two behind leaders Algeria. They need at least six points from their remaining four matches to guarantee qualification.

The World Cup Group is also not all that difficult with Ghana and South Africa having lost their way from the group of the powerful African football nations while Ethiopia can be said to be still learning.

What is now required is to give the Warriors an environment that guarantees success and that environment begins with money. Now that money is coming from Fifa, Zifa should not use all of it today, forgetting that tomorrow will come, and the Warriors will need to play.

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