ZIFA must set right objectives for Warriors

16 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
ZIFA must set right objectives for Warriors Lincoln Mutasa

The Sunday Mail

Zimpapers Sports Hub

ZIMBABWE’S Warriors have once again conspired to disappoint their multitude of followers, given their poor showing in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

Back-to-back defeats by Lesotho and South Africa left the Warriors anchoring the Group C standings with two points from four matches, and five behind leaders Benin.

Zimpapers Sports Hub looks at some of the problems rocking the national game, amid a seemingly endless toxic environment that has seen stakeholders a sharply divided lot.

There was a time when supporting the national football team inspired all to dream, and a qualification campaign brought the country together.

Head coaches were respected, players were chosen on merit, fans shared a common vision and the national football objectives were crystal clear.

The two World Cup qualifiers have shown how divided the nation is when it comes to football.

However, there seems to be a chance to save the Warriors brand, which is under siege from administrators, people of influence, agents, the media, social media influencers and the generality of the fan base.

Each of these sectors appears to have its own agenda and pulling in opposite directions.

What needs to be done

  1. A clear vision

The primary task given to the Normalisation Committee (NC) by FIFA was to run the day-to-day business of ZIFA and reform the governance of football in the country.

This included having a strategy around national team assignments, as these would occur during their tenure.

The goal or objective of the matches played during the period of the NC has to be set by Lincoln Mutasa and his crew as they are the administration of the day.

The NC’s two options are either immediate short-term success or long-term development.

This tells of the path being taken and helps in understanding the decisions being made.

Since Zimbabwe’s reinstatement, the NC have been unclear in their communication of their goals at the national level.

The NC are preaching development as the strategy, but at the same time making decisions based on a need for immediate success.

The lack of a clear vision has football stakeholders and the Zimbabwe fan base vociferously questioning all Warriors-based decisions.

It is one gap that has left the NC open to attack from every angle and makes them look like they are not fit for purpose.

  1. One stable, unattached coach for the duration of NC

The next misstep the NC have made has been their reluctance to name a stable “substantive” national team coach. The contract of this gaffer could have been made to coincide with the length of the NC mandate.

This candidate would need to be unattached to any club to prevent conflict of interest in player selections and execution of duties.

Being unattached would allow the coach to see prospective players play at their club levels, whether local or foreign, and make informed data-supported decisions about the players, rather than using competitive international matches to audition                                                players.

Stability allows for implementation of a long-term plan, familiarity of tactics and continuity.

It does not matter if the coach is local or foreign, time is needed.

Without stability, there is bound to be no respect of the coaches’ abilities without allowing him to form an ethos, such as has been seen since the establishment of the NC.

  1. Remove conflict of interest around the Warriors

There is no basis for appointing interim coaches and assistants who are attached to clubs, where they have bosses who pay their salaries and maintain interests in having their players capped.

There is no basis for having “well-wishers” who have deep interests in football providing staff, transport, accommodation and incentives.

There is no such thing as a “free meal”, as every date has a cost and people of influence know how to manipulate conflict of interest.

This was the system used by the past regime, with questions being posed on who in ZIFA really influenced player selection for the likes of Zdravko Logarusic.

With the NC using the same modus operandi, it leaves questions about their suitability to make the tough decisions to normalise local football.

It has been extremely disheartening to hear that the Warriors’ hotels in South Africa in the past week have been unsecured sites, where unaccredited people and even fans had direct access to the players and coaching staff.

  1. Need for fans to be fans

Football is the largest supported sport in Zimbabwe and the fans are educated and passionate.

Every fan has the right to express their opinion, but that should not include expressing falsehoods, unsubstantiated theories and misplaced facts.

The advent of social media has allowed fans to express their views publicly and form communities under social media influencers.

The opinions, even if shared, should not be considered technical input, and the NC should not be swayed by the fear of being victimised by social media trolls.

The weaponisation of social media comments and opinion should have no effect on the correct running of the national team, which serves national interests.

The problem is that posts and tone on some social media sites are sensationalist and provocative and sometimes ill-informed.

The game is more technical, and technology is a tool at play now, so comparisons of players can be done by statistical analysis and should be left to qualified personnel beyond other opinions, regardless of the number of social media fans mobilised.

There is need for fans who are pro-Zimbabwe Warriors and support all players selected by the technical staff.

  1. Respect for national team caps

A national team call-up should be a reward for any player who is displaying great performance and playing regular senior team football regardless of which league or country they are in.

It is the selection of the best performers and should not be seen as a right by those who have been selected before or as an incubator for unknown players who are failing to break into senior football teams.

Form should play a major role too.

Meritocracy must be restored regardless of where a player is based and there must be minimum standards to the selection process.

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