HARARE – Our football has over the last few years witnessed some highs and lows and the biggest casualties of this all has been the fans.
Whether you like or disagree with the way he conducts his business, there is no denying that the coming in of Philip Chiyangwa surely has brought golden smiles on the faces of football-loving millions of Zimbabweans.
Qualifying for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) that was held this year in Gabon was surely the pinnacle of our football in a good 11 years.
We always live life for the future not history.
Right now, every soccer fan in the country is looking forward to seeing the Warriors in Cameroon come 2019.
Kalisto Pasuwa had his dance with the Warriors and qualified for Afcon 2017 — even though the team did not perform to the expectations of many — at least he alongside Sunday Chidzambwa and Charles Mhlauri remain the only coaches to have taken the country to an Afcon tourney and will be judged accordingly.
Now it is Norman Mapeza’s turn to make his mark as coach.
As the Warriors troop in camp tomorrow to begin preparations to fight for their ticket to Cameroon — the surprise exclusion of captain Willard Katsande, Cuthbert Malajila, Nyasha Mushekwi and Matthew Rusike has dominated the news.
The quartet was accused of plotting the Warriors boycott of the send-off ceremony that was set to be graced by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa shortly before the team left for Gabon.
Chiyangwa is on record saying that the ring leaders of the boycott would be reprimanded.
Rusike, on Friday, posted a near abstruse message on Twitter saying, “Every decision along the way was a group decision and EVERYONE had a voice. But the ones who communicated the message got their heads chopped…
“Good Luck to the current crop called for national team. Norman is a great coach that can take us far with his experience.. Once a warrior Always a Warrior.”
We all know what he meant by that!
However, Warriors interim team manager Wellington Mpandare shockingly chose to embarrass himself as he tried to justify the quartet’s exclusion from Mapeza’s squad.
Mpandare is a poor ‘‘janitor’’ honestly — he actually exposed himself cruelly — he should know what to and what not to say, because football fans are not dimwits.
Why these good players were left out is an open secret, but for the sake of sanity we shall accept that probably they were dropped for “football reasons”.
Mushekwi is in red-hot form right now in the Chinese-second tier with an impressive eight goals in nine matches — yet Mpandare claimed he doesn’t know what Mushekwi is doing in China — horse manure!
Which football person under the sun doesn’t know the kind of revolution the Chinese football has brought about? Probably Mpandare alone!!
Hulk, Ramirez, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Axel Witsel, Oscar, Graziano Pelle, Obafemi Martins, Demba Ba and Carlos Tevez are some of the global stars playing their football in China at the moment.
Who knows, probably they will be joined by Wayne Rooney and Yaya Toure soon.
In case Mpandare hasn’t noticed — Tendai Ndoro and Evans Rusike (good players on their day) — the players who might lead the line for the Warriors against Liberia have scored a paltry two goals each since the start of the year.
Just in case Mpandare didn’t notice, Malajila helped Bidvest Wits to their maiden title while Rusike is playing some of his best football in Tunisia at Club Africain — in a league far much stronger and better than the Absa Premiership by the way.
Yet Mpandare — with his clear selective application of knowledge — gave feeble excuses that the striker had a “poor” performance at Afcon.
Those who follow the Absa Premiership religiously will agree that Katsande is probably the best defensive midfielder in the Absa Premiership and the best we have in the position again.
The world over coaches are custodians of their decisions because they will ultimately be judged by their results.
At Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane was been chastised for leaving out Colombian ace James Rodriguez in his starting XI — with all that quality — it was his decision ultimately.
Die hard Manchester United fans will probably come out in the open and declare that Marouane Fellaini is the least among their favourite players but still Jose Mourinho stuck with him.
Fans, world over, have their own expectations and unfortunately, they don’t always tally with every coach’s decisions.
Mapeza, as a just any other coach has his own philosophy and looks for certain qualities in his players.
Probably we might just have to swallow the bitter pill and say he did the same.
Even if he had decided to recall the likes of Peter Ndlovu, Joel Luphahla or Benjani Mwaruwari out of retirement or any other player for that matter — that again would have been entirely his decision and we would have had to accept it just like we have accepted the inclusion of Simon Shoko ahead of Katsande.
Mapeza chose players that fit into his style of play and if had he been there when the squad was announced, he probably might have given the nation a better explanation on why he left out Mushekwi, Rusike, Malajila and Katsande.
On form and quality, all four of them will easily walk into any Warriors squad.
Whatever the result that Zimbabwe will post against Liberia — the jury will be all out on Mapeza and his philosophy not Mpandare and his foolish explanations!!