Home » Sports » One Game We Just Can’t Lose [opinion]

THE Warriors’ 0-1 loss in Dar es Salaam struck the nation with a big wake-up slap. Almost everyone expected us to win against these minnows of African football. A draw was the least we expected.

A loss was unthinkable.

Not many had also thought we had become minnows ourselves after years of continued deterioration. In Shona, we are now “zuru rakapinda nyoka.”

Now we have come to realise that we might fail to even go past the first round of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. The consequences of the rot in our football administration have come to haunt us at a crucial stage.

What used to be small matches are now big matches for us.

It’s an unfortunate situation, but that’s the reality we face at the moment.

We can play blame games all we want, but that won’t change the fact that Zimbabwe has become one of the minnows of world football, let alone African football.

The statistics that Robson Sharuko revealed in Wednesday’s edition of The Herald painted a sorry picture of the Warriors’ results on the road over the last 10 years.

These stats at the same time confirmed our current position in African football — we are now just but a small team.

The fact that we have to go through two qualifying rounds before we join the group stages speaks volumes about how the Warriors have slid on African football rankings.

It’s a pathetic situation that we find ourselves in.

We have to take responsibility as a nation for this predicament and find a solution as a nation, again for us to come out of this situation.

One imagines what will happen to our football if we fail to beat the Taifa Stars by the required margin and fail to qualify for the second round.

The consequences are unthinkable — a long spell on the sidelines of international football.

The situation we are in calls for everyone to play their part in ensuring that we get the result we need to qualify for the second round and eventually the group stages.

We have to forget all the internal squabbles we have and unite for this very important national cause.

Government:

Government has to do all that it can to make sure that there is harmony among all parties that are involved in the forthcoming game.

The relevant ministries should play a ‘silent’ fatherly role to make sure that there is unity of purpose among relevant parties — Sports Commission, Zifa, PSL and the team. Disagreements should not lead to battles that spill into the press and destabilise the team.

ZIFA:

If there is a game that is of great importance to the current Zifa Board, it is this one. They should call all the stops to ensure that there is high morale in the Warriors camp.

It is encouraging that they have moved in to harmonise the working relationship between Jonathan Mashingaidze and Ian Gorowa, but I have my doubts of the sincerity of one of the parties.

The coach has asked for camp to start today and he needs their support.

It is a tough call considering that PSL had already released their calendar, but it can be done through dialogue.

If there is a way, this match should be played free of charge. We need the 12th man.

We all know the Association is in financial doldrums, but this game is of paramount importance, especially for the Association’s relevance going forward.

There is need to create a “hostile” atmosphere for the opposition.

The National Sports Stadium has become a poor hunting ground for the Warriors because it has ceased to be intimidating enough for the visiting teams.

In the old days, it would be filled to capacity and giants as big as Cameroon would fall by big margins.

That is the same atmosphere we need to create come Match Day against Tanzania.

Cuthbert Dube suggested that PSL games charge US$1 when he was re-elected Zifa president. Maybe he could lead by example and charge US$1 for the Tanzania game or let supporters in for free.

PSL:

A request has been put on your table to postpone this weekend league games to ensure that the coach has enough time with his players.

I do not think this is an unreasonable request considering the magnitude of this game.

You have many stakeholders to consider, we know, but this is for a worthy cause. Please, pull all the strings you can and grant the coach his wish.

The Players:

If there is a game that can make or break one’s career, it is this one. This is a game where you do not need external motivation. You are carrying the hopes and aspirations of the whole nation, all the fourteen million plus of us.

That alone should be inspiring.

You have been blamed for not scoring enough goals and this is the time for everyone to rise to the challenge.

Goals are not scored by strikers alone it is a team effort. However, caution and patience should be exercised in games of this magnitude. There is no need to put yourselves under unnecessary pressure.

You have played Tanzania twice in the last seven or so months, so you know them very well. You know what needs to be done.

One invigilator we had during my school days would say, “If this is your last song, sing it well, for you might not sing another.”

This is a game you have to play like you are not going to play another one for the Warriors because that might be a reality.

Give it your best shot and leave the rest to God.

The Technical Team:

I sincerely hope that you will be granted your wish and you will have enough time with the players. If it doesn’t happen, there is no need to cry over it.

You just have to make do with what is available and make the best out of it.

The nation has put their trust on you and my appeal to you is, “PLEASE, DON’T LET US DOWN.”

The Supporters:

We need to come in our numbers and support the team. The economic situation is tight, but we should do our part to ensure that the team has the 12th player.

People should be turned away from the stadium.

My biggest appeal is let’s support the team all the way through. Even when the chips are down, let’s cheer them up. Remember, they are our brothers.

They want to win just as much.

Let’s be patient even to the last minute. Goals are known to be scored in the last minute, let alone in added time.

This is a time when Zimbabwe needs to work as a united front. We all have a part to play. I can’t imagine the 2015 AFCON qualifiers without our beloved Warriors. It is just not possible.

Bothwell Mahlengwe is a banker and former Premiership footballer and can be contacted for feedback on: bmahlengwe.cb@gmail.com

Source : The Herald

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