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ZIMBABWE Warriors’ exit from the 2015 COSAFA Cup on Thursday night in South Africa was a major embarrassment for the nation and provided yet another disturbing sign of the decay that has crept into our national game.

That the Warriors, who finished as winners and runners-up in the last two editions of the regional tournament, could crash out in the preliminary round of the group stages – when the other big boys of the tourney have not yet entered the fray – provided another low point for a game that has clearly lost its soul.

It’s sad, especially for their long-suffering fans that the Warriors have been reduced to a punching bag in international football and that they can be humiliated 1-4 by Namibia in a tournament where they were once ranked among the best sides.

Maybe we should have seen this coming.

After all, this is the same team that struggled to beat Mauritius and Seychelles, some of the lightweights in regional football, in their first two games and it was also the same side that was hammered 1-5 by FC Platinum during the only preparatory match they played.

Once again, as has been the case in recent years, preparations for the tournament were chaotic and a team which was supposed to fly our flag with dignity, was treated with contempt by ZIFA and the players only came together in the final week of the tourney.

There was even confusion in the team because we didn’t know who would be coach in charge of the first game, with indications that Callisto Pasuwa would be the one running operations, for a while, while the other signals pointed to his assistant, Saul Chaminuka, taking control.

As it turned out, it was Chaminuka who took charge of the three group games, and while the coach was found wanting in the way he approached the decisive game against Namibia, he is not the one responsible for the mess that we find ourselves in.

The painful and grim reality is that our football leadership has lost direction and the Warriors and the Mighty Warriors are simply paying the price for the inefficiency of those who are in charge of running our national game.

When we have a ZIFA leadership that doesn’t value preparations, as is the case with our officials at No. 53 Livingstone Avenue, when it comes to our national teams, we must always know that disaster is waiting to happen.

When we have a ZIFA leadership which spends more time fighting to remain in office, or travelling to Zurich to vote for the FIFA president, than it does in taking care of its national teams, we should know that a humiliation like the one we suffered in South Africa is always on the horizon.

When we have a ZIFA leadership which spent the whole of last week concentrating on stopping a meeting by councillors who wanted to hold an indaba to voice their concerns about the way their football was being run into the ground, rather than devote their energies to ensuring that the Warriors would be in the best frame of mind ahead of their COSAFA aenture, then we should have been prepared for the disaster that came out of South Africa.

When we have a ZIFA leadership which simply can’t plan for the team and need a last-minute financial injection from Prophet Walter Magaya just for the Warriors to travel to South Africa, then we should always be ready for the kind of humiliation that we suffered in South Africa.

ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube, who was booted out of his office by the councillors on Saturday before he received a reprieve from FIFA, badly needs to take another look at himself in the mirror and see how he has contributed, during his nightmarish five-year term as the leader of football, to the decline of the Warriors.

The team has, under his watch, moved from one that had won the COSAFA Cup just a few months before he became ZIFA president in March 2010, to one that now can’t even lift themselves out of the group stages of the preliminaries in a pool featuring Mauritius, Seychelles and Namibia.

He has presided over the decline of the Warriors, from a team that was good enough to take their fight for a place at the Nations Cup finals to the final qualifying match, as was the case in 2011, to one that now can’t even lift itself out of the preliminary rounds of the qualifying phase of the tournament, being humiliated in the process by minnows like Tanzania.

And, before we forget, our World Cup campaign under Dube’s watch, as we battled for a place in Brazil, was our worst in history as we failed to win a single game of the six matches that we played, including losing two of our three home ties.

Clearly, we are short on vision and the Warriors didn’t even have a substantive coach until just a few weeks before they left for South Africa while, tellingly, we have chopped and changed coaches, trying about half-a-dozen of them in the last five years. Our fortunes have nose-dived on the field and we are worse off now than we were six years ago.

The Warriors’ failure and humiliation in South Africa is symptomatic of the collapse of a football system and a reality check, if we ever doubted that. We have now become a laughing stock in international football. If you doubt that, check our world ranking.

Source : The Herald