Local coaches silence critics

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THE Zimbabwe national soccer team has over the years changed coaches year in year out but the best we have achieved is mere qualification in the less fashionable regional soccer tournament, COSAFA. Foreign coaches have given the soccer-loving nation nothing to cheer about. Chronicling the history of Zimbabwe’s soccer successes, local coaches have scored better than expatriates who are expensive to hire and have drained ZIFA’s coffers. Zimbabwe has hired the services of the late Reinhard Fabisch yet his popular Dream Team failed to qualify for the continent’s biggest soccer showcase, the Africa Cup of Nations. Despite the glory, the team had great players like the three Ndlovu brothers —Adam, Peter and Madinda — the late Benjamin Konjera, Agent Sawu, the late Francis Shonhayi and Paul Gundani among others. However, the team failed to qualify for Africa’s biggest showpiece. Other coaches who came after Fabisch like Ian Porterfield, Wieslaw Grabowski, Marc Duvillard, Brazilian coach Valinhos and Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet, among others never brought soccer glory to Zimbabwe. To date, the country has made two appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2004 and 2006, but bowed out in the group stage. In both cases, the Warriors were under the mentorship of local coaches. In 2004, Zimbabwe was in Tunisia under the tutelage of Sunday ‘Mhofu’ Chidzambwa. Two years later, the Warriors appeared at the biannual Nations Cup under the mentorship of dreadlocked Charles Mhlauri and former Highlanders midfielder Rahman Gumbo as his assistant. However, despite the resounding successes they achieved, the local coaches left the team in a huff. Mali has a French technical team and all the paramedics are French, demonstrating overdependence on foreign nationals at the expense of the locals. However, Africans have in the past neglected their own nationals for the coaching job. Kudakwashe Chirimumarara from Mbare said ZIFA should engage local coaches only for the national team. “Zimbabwe national team needs a local coach to get results whilst we should engage experienced foreign coaches for all junior teams to teach our youngsters technical soccer at an early stage,” he said. “Personally, I had doubts about Mapeza due to lack of coaching experience, but he seems to be making it, considering his playing experience at the highest level. “We should also desist from hiring and firing coaches without giving them adequate time. With the Warriors yet to qualify for their third appearance at the continental soccer showcase, the technical department of Mapeza and Joey Antipas needs to be given enough time and resources. Soccer supporters said they were not happy with the Warriors preparations for the Mali game despite their success urging ZIFA to act on time and prioritise the Warriors camping for future matches. The Warriors chances for qualification are still high if they win their remaining two fixtures later this year. The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations will be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

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