Warriors should believe in themselves

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THE Zimbabwe senior national soccer team, the Warriors, march into Rufaro Stadium for a date against West African giants Mali with a dark cloud hovering above them. They failed to collect maximum points in their first three matches. The Warriors need to overcome Mali and hope that results from the other match between the Cape Verde Islands and fallen giants Liberia produces at least a draw in order to reach the Orange African Cup of Nations finals. That is the desperate position our national team finds itself in due to a plethora of problems ranging from poor administration, questionable team selection, lack of adequate preparations and lack of belief in ourselves. But we think the biggest problem is lack of belief in ourselves and our capacity. There is an obsession with foreign coaches in a section of the country’s football controlling body, the Zimbabwe Football Association. This is shown by the spirited defence they put up to support their shock appointment of one Tom Saintfiet of Belgium whom they wanted to lead our Warriors to glory. Saintfiet was not the first one anyway. There were many others before and after him. There was Westerhoff, the man who eventually became our son-in-law. There was the Polish who taught us selling players was big business, Grabowski. There was the silent failure from Brazil called Valinhos. And, of course, Reinhardt Fabisch. It is a fact that foreign coaches do not come cheap and do not always produce the anticipated results. Why then do they seem to be preferred ahead of local coaches? We think this has everything to do with lack of belief in ourselves. It is the kind of mentality that was produced by the process of colonisation: to look up towards Europe for salvation and the simplest solution. This is what has left the Warriors teetering on the verge of yet another failed attempt to reach the continent’s most prestigious tournament, the Afcon finals. This tournament alone and the four games that have been played have seen three coaches taking charge of the Warriors dressing room. If there is anything called a circus, it can’t beat this. After all, wasn’t it Sunday Chidzambwa and Charles Mhlauri, both local boys, who took us to our only two appearances at the finals? While the Warriors have been disappointing, their female counterparts, the Mighty Warriors, have been flying the country’s flag high with breathtaking performances and last month they duly qualified for the Zone Six All-Africa Games. A closer look at the Mighty Warriors’ stunning displays will show that the ladies have achieved this success through proper planning and hard work and belief in ourselves. The Mighty Warriors are led by local coach, Rosemary Mugadza, who is assisted by Maxwell Takaendesa Jongwe and this faith in local coaches is testimony enough that we do not need foreigners to achieve success in everything we do as a nation. The Mighty Warriors have shown that money is not the motivating factor when it comes to fighting for their motherland as they have literally been operating on a shoestring budget because of lack of funding. It is encouraging to note that following their recent success, the corporate world is now opening its purse. The Warriors should bear in mind when they play Mali on Sunday that they can do it. Zimbabweans must in turn rally behind the Warriors and shout at the top of our voices: WE CAN DO IT.

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