ZIFA chaos breeds shame

09 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
ZIFA chaos breeds shame ON THE PROWL . . . Zimbabwe’s Tinotenda Kadewere (left) charges for goal under challenge from Lesotho’s Rethabile Rasethuntsa during last Friday’s game at Orlando Stadium in South Africa. — Picture: Gallo Images

The Sunday Mail

Petros Kausiyo in HARARE and Lovemore Moyo in JOHANNESBURG

THE latest edition of Southern Africa’s biggest rivalry between Zimbabwe and South Africa, in which three points  would have been at stake to determine the top half of Group C of this World Cup qualifying campaign, will come after a calamitous result for the Warriors.

Bafana Bafana and the Warriors square off at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

Yet at the end of the Match Day Three proceedings of the Group C fixtures on Friday night, it felt like the same old story, different actors, but same scenario, for local football fans as the Warriors conspired to disappoint them following a shock 2-0 defeat to Lesotho.

The setting this time was not the National Sports Stadium in Harare, as the facility was suspended from hosting international matches after failing to meet Confederation of African Football’s minimum standards, which include safety and security.

Even though they were “home away from home” at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, the Warriors were not short of vociferous support from thousands of Zimbabweans based in South Africa.

But tell-tale signs that beating Lesotho, Somalia or even Seychelles could be a difficult ask for the Warriors were always there given the shoddy manner in which Zimbabwe went about preparing for these qualifiers.

Football has become big business globally and the World Cup is the ultimate prize in the game and as such, it simply deserves to be respected.

The ZIFA Normalisation Committee tasked with reforming Zimbabwean football have not respected the game.

Curiously, the Normalisation Committee, led by Lincoln Mutasa, appointed yet another interim coach for the Warriors just 10 days before the senior team plunged into battle.

And for good measure, Jairos Tapera was only unveiled as the latest interim coach when the ZIFA Secretariat, led by FIFA Forward manager Kudzi Chitima, had reportedly already selected the squad in consultation with Brazilian coach Baltemar Brito.

Brito had been expecting a second stint with the Warriors, but that hope ended after it emerged he had long fallen out of favour with the Normalisation Committee.

And away from the less-than-ideal fashion that characterised the build-up to Tapera’s appointment as the fourth interim coach to take charge of the Warriors under Mutasa, Zimbabwe remained favourites to overcome a Lesotho side that had not won a World Cup qualifier in over a decade.

In fact, three of the six teams — Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe — that were expected to occupy positions one, two and three at this stage have taken seats at the back of Group C after three games.

Sad is the fact that the Warriors are at the bottom without a win after matches against Rwanda, Nigeria and Lesotho.

For those who have been to the small mountainous kingdom of Lesotho, football is a pastime, which explains why they have for long been referred to as whipping boys and are always expected to gracefully hand three points.

Yet on Friday afternoon, at this famous football venue in Soweto, they put on a tactical masterclass to win over their fancied opponents.

Friday’s “home” match against Likuena (Crocodiles) went wrong for Tapera, with two goals conceded from suspect defending situations that should have been dealt with in a better way.

A cross delivered from a corner floated all the way past the cluster of Warriors inside the smaller box to land onto the path of Lisema Lebokollane for a surprise gift of a goal.

Lebokollane plays for Linare in Lesotho, where monthly earnings are US$400 at best, yet he was able to find himself with a Christmas meal in front of players who consider his salary mere pocket money.

The Warriors fans occupying the stand where Orlando Pirates always have numbers could not believe this small nation of just over two million people had surged ahead.

If that was bad, then it got worse when Jane Thabantso doubled the lead after being presented with acres of space to do as he pleased.

Thabantso plays for Matlama, who have never gone past the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League and would gladly accept 5 percent of what his marker Gerald Takwara earns in Saudi Arabia.

Takwara actually looked to be carrying an injury throughout the game.

His defensive partnership with Teenage Hadebe has also not been the best for the Warriors, shipping in eight goals in their last five outings.

In the end, for all the possession that the Warriors enjoyed, it counted for absolutely nothing, with Marshall Munetsi, Daniel Msendami and Divine Lunga’s efforts not being complemented by many of their teammates.

Msendami — the boy whose home is in Glenkara, Nkulumane, Bulawayo — showed why he deserves a better platform than Jwaneng Galaxy in Botswana.

He could have even done better had Tapera started him on his favourite left wing.

Tino Kadewere was disappointing again and still without a goal in the last six outings despite being the main striker.

Jordan Zemura did nothing to justify his call; as did Tawanda Chirewa, who plays for English Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Leicester City winger Tawanda Maswanhise was guilty of loitering, doing far much less than what the Simba Bhora pair of Walter Musona and Tymon Machope showed after they were handed assignments from the bench.

In a team pregnant with players from clubs in England, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, it was natural that Tapera would be questioned about how he manages this group considering the weight of his name.

His first words post-match spoke of disappointment — which was expected after such a horror result.

One distressed Zimbabwean fan even attempted to manhandle Tapera during the match as a way of expressing how he felt about what he had seen on the pitch.

“All of the senior players whom we had in this camp, I met them when I was head coach of the Under-20,” said Tapera in between admitting the damage of the defeat.

“So, it is like I introduced them to their first taste of international football.

“When we met now, it was like a father-to-son relationship and made these boys who are coming in have an opportunity to be with the rest of these guys,

“These senior players made a big impact in terms of our relationship with these young boys. Some of them play together in Europe and (the fact) that they talk about how I handled them in that age group made everything smooth.

“We are just taking each other as a father and son and I’m very sure that they are happy. Losing to Lesotho is a big setback, although we are going to be man enough to see that we have failed ourselves and prepare for the next assignment.

“The way we lost today is the same way we can win against any team tomorrow. We need these players to be together for some time so that they understand each other.”

Next is Bafana Bafana.

Tuesday evening’s contest has been taken to the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein — 450km from Johannesburg.

The bite of the dropping temperatures will be worse in the Free State provincial capital than what has been felt in Gauteng in recent days as the calendar turns to winter.

For the business of the day, the Warriors come up against a Bafana Bafana team led by Hugo Broos, who deserves all the credit for reaching the semi-finals at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year for the first time since 2000.

Broos has built Bafana Bafana into a cohesive team, while Tapera will be hoping to have gone through the process of digging the foundation and having a structure within the week that he has spent with this group of Warriors in Johannesburg.

“This loss is history and against Bafana is a different game altogether,” said Tapera.

“We have time to sit down and organise and probably watch one or two of the games that Bafana Bafana have played and see how we can react to their movement.

“It is a different game, and we might perform differently against Bafana Bafana. We need to work on our defence and the set pieces because we were very poor.

“We also need to work on the movement of our wingers so that we get crosses into the box and finish the chances that we create.

“The number of chances was six and we couldn’t convert one. So, it is something that we must sit down with the players and talk about.”

As has always been the case since the first meeting between these two neighbours in 1992, when the Warriors massacred Bafana Bafana 4-1, the circumstances of the two nations always differ.

A football contest between Bafana Bafana and the Warriors always evokes memories — both good and bad — and the forthcoming clash between the two countries separated by the Limpopo River will be no different.

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