HomeOpinion & AnalysisAfcon qualification not enough anymore

Afcon qualification not enough anymore

Zimbabwe qualified for a third consecutive Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals appearance and fifth overall after beating Botswana in Francistown last week.

The success-starved nation is celebrating the achievement after earning the right to take part at the continent’s premier football competition.

Fair enough.

But surely qualifying for the Afcon finals can no longer be considered an achievement for any country that takes its football seriously. The main reason being that the competition has lost its elite status considering that only 24 countries out of the 54 Confederation of African Football members associations take part — about half of the football teams in Africa.

Another reason is that we have been to the Afcon finals, which is a biennial competition, five times in the last 17 years and this translates to an average of once in every three and half years.

For the conservative section of the football fans, another embarrassing episode could be looming at the event to be held in Cameroon next year.

In the last two events, Zimbabwe has captured world attention for all the wrong reasons other than performing on the football pitch.

In Egypt two years ago, Zimbabwe crashed out of the competition in the first round just like in all the other previous appearances, and with just a single point and bettered Namibia, Burundi and Tanzania.

After arriving in Egypt a couple of days before the first match of the event, the Warriors infamously threatened to boycott the match against the hosts over a payment dispute.

In Gabon four years ago, the team embarrassingly boycotted the send-off dinner that was arranged by the government ahead of their departure for the Afcon.

The function was officiated by the then Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a local hotel.

The Warriors also refused to board the plane to Cameroon and again it was an issue of bonuses and allowances.

It will not be a surprise if the team is owed allowances from the first qualification match against Botswana in November 2019.

Everyone knows what happened at the Chan finals barely two months ago, how the team lasted four days in the competition and stayed just to finish their matches.

These are the issues that a football serious country should consider rather than just making numbers.

For some reason Zifa never has a plan for these competitions when the team qualifies.  It is always as if they are caught off guard by these “milestones” considering how messy our preparations turn out to be.

But all the same, it’s kudos to the players who give their best to the country to make sure there is something to cheer about.

Go Warriors, go!

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