Home » Sports » Kudos to Pasuwa, the Warriors [editorial]

Zimbabwe’s Warriors moved mountains on Saturday to produce a performance and crucially, a victory that cheered the spirits of the entire football world that had sympathised with their horror plight in the countdown to the AFCON qualifier against Malawi.

Coach Callisto Pasuwa and his gallant men somehow snatched a 2-1 win over Malawi, the first time the Warriors have won a Nations CupWorld Cup assignment away from home since 2004, to get their campaign for a place in Gabon in 2017, to a great start.

That the team only trained for one full day, Wednesday and then had to endure a gruelling road trip to Malawi, arriving in Blantyre just hours before the game, made the stunning victory by the Warriors special.

We join the nation in saluting Pasuwa and his brave Warriors who made a mockery of the chaos that stalked their preparations, including a spectacular fallout between the players and the ZIFA leadership over allowances and match fees, to fight for the pride of their country and fly our national flag very high.

In that grand battle in Blantyre, they exhibited the true spirit of the Warriors, made us all proud to be called Zimbabweans and used football to show why, as a nation, we have always defied insurmountable odds and emerge victorious. The celebrations that the Warriors’ victory torched across the country at the weekend also showed how much we tend to under-estimate the power of football to transform the mood of our nation and brighten our spirits even against the backdrop of challenges.

If ever we wanted to know that this game is very important to us as Zimbabweans and the Warriors are a big constituency of what we are as a people and nation, then the events on Saturday and Sunday, as the entire country celebrated the events in Blantyre, showed us that football is more than just a game to us. And the Warriors are more than just a national football team. The Warriors are our identity, as a people, and when they lose, we all feel the depression of that loss and on the occasions that they win, as they did at the weekend, we all feel the joy that comes with such a triumph.

We love them because they belong to us and it’s on record that when the Warriors were doing very well, during the Dream Team era in the mid ’90s and between 2003 and 2006 when they qualified for successive Nations Cup finals, the team attracted, on average, more fans to their matches than any other national side in Africa.

That is the extent of our love for this team and why it is important that the Warriors roar again, after years of under-achievement in which they have been turned, largely by the failings of the people we put into leadership positions in our football, into the punching bags on the continent.

The victory in Blantyre should not be the end, but the beginning of the revival of our Warriors so that they become the team that we all want them to be — a feared group of hunters who can destroy any prey whether at home or away from home and a side that can qualify for major football tournaments like the Nations Cup again.

It is, therefore, important that we don’t forget the madness that blighted the Warriors’ preparations ahead of their game against Malawi.

There is something fundamentally wrong about our football, especially the way the game is being run and that we can have a situation where our national coach is employed and then not paid for nine months, when he is supposed to be doing a very important job for us, is an indictment of the system that runs our national game.

The ZIFA leaders, now and again, have shown that they are not up to the task of executing the national mandate of leading such a key portfolio like football and it’s a shame that Cuthbert Dube, the game’s leader, appears either disoriented or simply lacks interest, in the game itself or the national teams that he promised to serve.

He barely watches the national teams, so we assume he doesn’t care about them, but that shouldn’t stop us as a country from finding solutions to the challenges that keep stalking our representative football sides because when the players put on those green-and-gold jerseys, they are representing more than the clowns at 53 Livingstone Avenue.

They are representing our proud nation and we hail people like Prophet Walter Magaya and his partners for constantly coming to the aid of our national teams — the Warriors, the Young Warriors and the Mighty Warriors — with financial injections in excess of $100 000 now which have gone into the coffers of ZIFA.

Therefore, as we toast the Miracle of Blantyre, which continues to cheer our spirits, let’s put our house in order and not forget that the coach who masterminded that sensational victory, Pasuwa, is still unpaid, in the nine months he has served his country, and we could lose him to nations like Malawi who are now looking for a coach.

Source : The Herald