By Sheldon Hakata
WHILE Zimbabwe’s abundant football talent has yet to fully translate into the success story that it should be, there are many issues that need to be unravelled if we are to take the game forward.
The same goes for the continent as well.
None of the African football teams have won the World Cup despite boasting some players plying their trade in some of the top clubs in world football.
Zimbabwe has been to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals but fell short in the early stages in each of the three times that we have participated in the tournament such that mere qualifying can no longer be considered a success.
If the main objective is to catapult Zimbabwean football to the top of the world, then what are we getting wrong?
Do we have the structures, the infrastructure or the modalities in place to steer the country’s football towards the zenith?
Do we have the coaches?
In previous years, football fans were entertained by the brilliance of great coaches like Ashton Nyazika, Shepherd Murape, Lovemore Nyabeza, Obediah Sarupinda and Peter Nyama, among others.
They produced fantastic teams.
Their teams played with some attacking flair, excitement and imagination.
It was a great period for these legendary football coaches and the courage of their teams was well on offer.
Bright and exciting times await Zimbabwean football as more and more coaches and players alike are being recognised in foreign top flight leagues across the globe.
Local coaches have generally done well abroad.
The country now has players coming from the English Premiership, French Ligue 1, Belgian Pro-League and the Turkish League, making it one of the most talented teams in African football today.
The direction that Zimbabwean football is taking is least encouraging.
Local coaches will undoubtedly go down into the regional club football history.
However, southern Africa remains the springboard for Zimbabwean coaches to excel.
A change in focus for the coaches ‘final destination apart from the region should aim to European and other competitive leagues and do the national team good.
Local coaches plying their trade in foreign leagues is ample testimony of the vast talent at the country’s disposal.
That local football coaches have excelled in foreign trenches is also an indicator of the high standards in the country.
Some of the coaches have joined the foreign regional leagues with rich CVs while others enrich it on duty outside the borders.
Former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker had a pool of technical advisors when he guided the team to its maiden African Nations Cup win in 1996 that included former coach and Zimbabwean goal scoring legend Peter ‘Thunder-Boots’ Nyama.
Former Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa’s coaching credentials are continuously gaining momentum in the southern African region.
Pasuwa has won two league titles in a row with Malawian side, Nyasa Big Bullets.
Nyasa Big Bullets recently defended the TNM Super League title adding to the four straight titles that Pasuwa won during his days at fading giants Dynamos between 2011 and 2014.
The iconic Norman Mapeza has also demonstrated the same feat in the South African ABSA Premiership with Chippa United where he has turned around the fortunes of the once struggling club.
The club sat at the bottom of the log table when the shrewd coach joined winless the club; now eyeing a top eight finish.
Kaitano Tembo, once one of the most feared defender for both his club and country has also done well at Supersport where he is head coach at the flamboyant club.
The current Black Rhinos coach Herbert Maruwa who started a football career at Murehwa United and later left for CAAZ, Arcadia United in Division 1 is a relatively unknown name in the country but his exploits in Swaziland cannot go unnoticed.
He attended Level One coaching course in 2008 and had a successful stint at Dynamos from 2009 to 2015.
Maruwa embarked on the foreign adventure, being assistant coach to Rodwell Dhlakama at Swaziland top flight outfit Green Mambas.
When Dhlakama left after seven games, Maruwa took over.
During his club career as interim coach, Mambas survived relegation in the 2015-6 season, occupied sixth spot on the log, with the season ending in April.
Maruwa took over as head coach, and lost 2-1 to Mbabane Swallows in the final of the Swazi Bank Cup.
As one of the first Zimbabwean coaches in the Swazi top flight league under his guidance, Mambas qualified to the semi-finals of the King’s Ingwenyama Cup.
The Rhinos coach still has the highest record after trouncing Ludelude Stars 16-0.
A total of 32 teams compete in this tournament.
He left Mbabane Highlanders mid-season after disagreement with the administration.
Through admiration from Bheki Simelani, a former club director at Mbabane Highlanders, Maruwa was offered a job at Mbabane Citizens.
He played 13 games, notching 10 wins and 3 draws with the club.
Citizens stormed into the Ingwenyama Cup semis again and it is not a secret that Maruwa helped Citizens gain promotion into the country’s elite league.