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Our football has lost its way around the African football map not only at national team level but also at club level.

We are no longer as influential as we used to be. In fact, we have sunk so low that our most successful football team, Dynamos, have now been reduced to playing in the CAF Champions League preliminary round against the likes of Botswana Defence Forces and Lesotho Correctional Services.

Yet in the past, our clubs were among the most feared on the continent, with Dynamos riding among the top 10 ranked clubs on the continent.

Blackpool had set the ball rolling in 1995 when they reached the semifinals of the then Africa Cup of Winners’ Cup. Dynamos followed suit by going a step further in 1998 when they reached the final of the CAF Champions League before losing to Asec Mimosa of Ivory Coast.

That success was maintained with the Zimbabwe champions featuring in the mini league stage in 1999 and reaching the semifinals of Africa’s biggest football competition in 2008.

The achievement guaranteed Zimbabwe two slots in the CAF Champions League and the rewards were there for everyone to see as in 2009 we had two teams — Dynamos and Monomotapa — reaching the mini league stage of the competition.

After that, our game went off the rail to the extent that for the past five years or so, we have not had a team in the mini league stage. Not only have they failed to make it tothe CAF Champions but also in the lower tier, the CAF Confederations Cup.

All sorts of theories have been built to justify our teams’ failure with many pointing to the fact that we are losing too much talent to South African clubs.

But there should always be a conveyor belt for talent where each time players leave there should be others on standby ready to take over from the departed.

Other clubs in Africa, especially in West Africa, are losing hundreds of players to Europe but we have not heard them complaining that they have run dry of talent.

This means that there is something which we are not doing right in our football.

Gone are the days when soccer fans came early to football matches to watch junior teams play as curtain raisers, and later the clubs reserves, before they could watch the main match of the day.

This provided a swift transition where players were developed from junior teams to the reserves up to the senior team, with those good enough making it into the national team.

The Premier Soccer League should put in place measures to ensure that every club has a reserve team which plays just before the senior team takes to the field.

This not only provides entertainment for the fans before the main game, but also creates a reservoir of talent for our clubs. We are the only ones who can help develop our football.

The 2015 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season is just around the corner and fans are looking forward to a highly entertaining show.

The last time they watched teams from the top-flight league play was way back in December last year.

Since then, the fans have been continuously fed on entertainment from the same teams playing in small two-team or four-team competitions in which clubs have participated by invitation.

Yes, the clubs need the small monies on offer, but the tournaments are becoming a bore as fans cannot continue enduring watching CAPS United and Dynamos play each other week in and week out.

CAPS United and Dynamos are today meeting for the third time since the beginning of the year and by the time the season starts, fans would have lost appetite of watching them in action.

Not all football fans are followers of the three most popular football teams — CAPS United, Dynamos, and Highlanders — and the sponsors who are coming in should find ways of accommodating other teams to make their competitions attractive.

For instance, a tournament at the beginning of the season featuring only the four newly promoted teams into the Premiership: Hwahwa, Tsholotsho, Flame Lilly, and Dongo Sawmills, would have had its own followers.

This would have ensured that most of the clubs in the PSL were accommodated in these tournaments as the PSL also has the One Wallet Cup which is for the teams that finished in the top eight the previous season.

There is more we can do before the start of the season than just making CAPS United, Dynamos, and Highlanders play every weekend.

For comments, views, suggestions, email mkariati@gmail.com, or WhatsApp on 0773 266 779.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard

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