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ZIMBABWEAN football coach Philip Zulu says Zifa and the Government should start putting plans in place for the 2022 World Cup if the nation is to entertain hopes of ever making it to the global event.

Zulu, who is involved in the development of young players, said whatever programmes the authorities come up with should revolve around junior and youth development hence the need for viable grassroots structures.

“Zifa and the Government should set their sights on the World Cup 2022 to be held in Qatar and start serious preparations now that are guided by a robust junior and youth football development programme. There is a greater need for the Government to lay down the foundation of national sports in provinces that seek to enhance quality and competency.

“The recent game against Morocco by our Under-23 team is a clear testimony that if we focus on junior development on an intensive basis, nothing is impossible for the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

“Zifa should be at the forefront of making recommendations to the Government, in particular to the exchequer, in requesting for support and funding to implement a four-year development plan that should be run in every province throughout the whole country.

“They do not have the clout and capacity to underwrite such a major and national task that helps to increase the national human capital base of skilled manpower on their own,” said Zulu.

Zulu said if focus and effort is directed in the right places, qualification for the 2022 World Cup is realistic and can be achieved. He added that there is need to take into account the past failures, which can be guidelines, and map the way forward from there.

“Zifa should come up with a comprehensive four-year programme that is broad based and sustainable. A programme that brings forth the highest international football agenda to the multitude of our juniors and youths. We should aim for perfection in all our endeavours so that top talent is well nurtured.

“Local coaches like Thomas Mudzengerere and Erick Chitukuta, who have shown commitment and dedication in developing young players, should be roped in to help drive this national programme. These coaches and many others countrywide have selflessly endured that harsh side of working without resources, support and recognition of their abilities and efforts.

“The Government’s effort to uplift young people through psychomotor skills as part of the Zim-Asset is highly commendable but there is a huge gap between the policy and reality on the ground.

“Zifa should take the lead and engage all the relevant authorities and highlight our shortcomings on the international scene as evidenced by so many failures on all World Cup qualifying stages. The national football mother body should make recommendations based on these failed attempts that have perennially compromised our competitiveness in football and in all our sporting disciplines.

“Mediocrity has settled in and has been celebrated for far too long hence the timely decisive moment when Cuthbert Dube dissolved the national team and heeded our call that the rot in our game should be stopped forthwith,” Zulu said.

The Zimbabwean coach, who is based in the United Kingdom, feels the current education system is also a stumbling block as sport is not allocated enough time.

“The ongoing national debate on changes that need to be effected in how our children learn is a major challenge that must not be ignored and left to a select few technocrats and academics whose life experiences cannot be shared with the majority of any young people.

“Sport is part of the wider global entertainment and should also be given more recognition, support and acceptance locally. Sport can be a source of inspiration to revamp the current status quo which hinders our young people to compete at the highest possible international stages.

“We still have a school calendar that allocates 90 days of football activities and yet we want to be top performers and earners amongst more serious nations such as Brazil, Germany, Spain and Italy who breathe football everyday.

“This is diabolical and unacceptable, football should be a full calendar year activity and as such be modelled alongside apprenticeship programmes that are currently in place,” said Zulu.

Zimbabwe have over the years failed in all their efforts to qualify the World Cup with their worst campaign being for the 2014 edition in which they finished bottom of Group G after losing four and drawing two of their six group matches against Egypt, Guinea and Mozambique.

Source : The Herald