It gives me great pleasure to be able to communicate with you on this very significant day on Zimbabwe’s soccer calendar. In a couple of hours, our number one team, the Warriors, will trot onto the turf at the National Sports Stadium for that crucial, do-or-die 2015 Afcon clash against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania.
Ian “Dibango” Gorowa’s troops will be under pressure to try and overturn a 0-1 deficit suffered on a wet turf at the National Stadium in Dar es salaam a fortnight ago.
First, I implore every soccer-loving fan to descend on the Warren Park-based enclosure, where so many battles have been won by the gold and black or green, white and red or all-white Warriors since that “theatre” hosted its finest repertoire in 1991, when a Peter Ndlovu-inspired cast outshone the tough-talking Bafana Bafana outfit by 4 goals to 1 in another Afcon tie.
There have been other tales that have been successfully scripted there that I will not bother you to remember them all.
Secondly, let’s all rally behind the 18-man squad and starting XI who will be thrown into the fray by Gorowa, Kallisto Pasuwa, Shariff Mussa, Gift Muzadzi and Richard Tswatswa.
Over the past 10 days or so, I’ve been inundated with phone calls, e-mails, text messages — or even stopped in the street — as most people have given me their 18-man squad and starting line-up lists to take to Gorowa in consideration for today’s encounter!
Thank you so much for all the effort and love and I would also like to let you know that “Dibango” has asked me to thank you as well for showing your attachment, care and love for the guys.
It is with this in mind that if there’s a player or players of your choice who will not make it into the team, please don’t be angry and look to stir a hornets’ nest.
And, please, don’t look at any player as “coming from Dynamos, Highlanders, CAPS United, Hwange or anywhere else” because nobody is going to be putting on the black and white of Bosso or the blue of De Mbare or the green and white of Makepekepe. Of course, not . . . it’s all going to be about the sacred Zimbabwe and the millions she depicts as a sign of superfluity, calm and valour.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that we only love to cheer our boys on when everything is going our way, but keep very quiet or even turn up the boo volumes when the tide is against us.
I would like to appeal to every one of you to start straining those vocal chords from the moment you take your seat at the giant venue until the referee’s final whistle at the end of the main game! Oh, yes, let’s do it!
The Willard Katsande saga is over now. Let us all let bygones be bygones, just like “Dibango” illustrated when he pardoned the industrious midfielder and recalled him into the squad.
We all need to move forward and concentrate on the task before us and if “Bute” is thrust into the starting line-up, let’s all cheer him and urge him — together with Stephen Alimenda, Denver Mukamba and Danny Phiri — to continue following in the footsteps of past luminaries like David Mandigora, Willard Mashinkila-Kumalo, Stanford M’tizwa and the late Joel Shambo and Benjamin Nkonjera, who controlled the middle of the park with ingenuity.
Let’s forget about all our personal differences, for united we will triumph and, of course, divided we will perish at the hands of the determined Tanzanians.
We also need to stand up and give a standing ovation to Edward Sadomba’s Libyan side, Al Ahly Benghazi, for, once again, showing their unwavering solidarity with us following their admirable deed in chartering a flight for the speed merchant from their land to Tunisia, where he was able to catch a connecting flight home.
We sincerely salute our North African brothers and sisters.
Finally, if the unthinkable does happen — woe betide — and the Taifa Stars knock us out, let’s accept defeat with grace and wish them the best in the next round.
But, I’m still confident and overly optimistic that we will prevail and meet the “Mambas” of Mozambique in the next round.
May all of you enjoy this day, as we all pray to the Almighty to shine his glowing light of hope and festiveness upon our great soccer-crazy nation.
Remember to take care of your loved ones and each other.
It’s bye bye for now.
Yours in sport,
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