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Date: 25 April 2019

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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Saintfeit has NO EXCUSE for failure

[Posted 05 Oct 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Necessary conditions are in place for Saintfeit to succeed. NO EXCUSES!

Newly appointed Zimbabwe coach Tom Saintfiet will have no excuse for failing to guide Zimbabwe Warriors to qualification at a third Africa Nations Cup finals to be hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in January 2012.

Despite the drama and all the media negativity which characterised his appointment late last month, Saintfeit appears to be one of the luckiest of Warriors coaches ever since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980. The 38 year old Belgian has the necessary conditions in place to win Group A of 2012 afcon qualifiers with flying qualifiers.

Here are the following factors which demand that Saintfeit makes sure that Zimbabwe quaifies for the 2012 afcon finals in less than two years' time.

Best Playing Staff in 5 years

  • Saintfeit has probably the most committed and best playing staff Zimbabwe has had in the past five years. It is clear when one looks at the current form of the Warriors squad from goalkeepers through to strikers.

  • No other coach has had the fortune of having two professional goalkeepers who are on top of their game, plying their trade outside Zimbabwe's borders. Energy Murambadoro has been, before his recent injury, one of the best goalkeepers so far this season in South Africa. The same goes for Tapuwa Kapini. The former Highlanders keeper has been Platinum Stars' best player in the past few games of the 2010/2011 season. Edmore Sibanda of CAPS has just returned to form from his slump a few months ago and is even scoring goals in the local PSL from free-kicks these days.

  • The defence boasts of in-form players such as the versatile Noel Kaseke, fresh from winning a league title with AC Omonia in Cyprus. Kaseke was one of the best players on view in Liberia on 5 September in the opening game of the 2012 qualifiers. Costa Nhamoinesu of Zaglebie Lubin has been playing well for his club, while Dickson Choto who plays in the same league for Legia Warsazawa even attracted the interest of Turkish giants Fernebahce during the off-season. Method Mwanjali has finally moved to a foreign club in SA with Mamelodi Sundowns and has begun to enjoy game time now.While Thomas Sweswe of Kaizer Chiefs has not seen much game time in Cup games of late, he remains a solid defender with Champions league experience.

  • The Warriors midfield boasts the stiffest competition from foreign-based players and locals. Tinashe Nengomasha of Kaizer Chiefs is back to his old form in SA, Esrom Nyandoro of Sundowns has picked up great form at the right time and still captains Sundowns. Despite his current injury, Ovidy Karuru has been playing more regularly for US Bolougne in France. Justice Majabvi is fighting for his position in the Warriors midfield and is currently doing well in the Austrian Bundesliga with LASK Linz. Versatile player Quincy Antipas of Sonderjyske in Danish Superliga, Vusa Nyoni of Germinal Beerschot in Begian Pro-League and Clement Matawu of Polonia Bytom of Polish Ekstraklasa have been regular starters for their respective clubs. Roving wing midfielder Oscar Machapa played in his first Cup final on Saturday when his club Moroka Swallows lost in penalties to Orlando Pirates in the MTN8 final. At home, Ashley Rambanepasi is proving to be one of the best central midfielders in the domestic premiership. He scored a brace when Dynamos beat Gunners 4-1 in the semi-finals of the ZAOGA Golden Jubilee 50th Anniversary Trophy. 

  • Zimbabwe boasts the exuberance of youth in its striking department. These young strikers have been on top of their games for their respective clubs. 23-year old Nyasha Mushekwi of Sundowns in SA scored two goals in his first competitive match in SA PSL. Though he has appeared mostly as a substitute, he was instrumental in his club's great comeback when they defeated champions Supersport 2-1 in Pretoria two weeks back. Knowledge Musona is currently the hottest property in SA football at the moment. The 20-year old Kaizer Chiefs sensation has scored on average, a goal per game thus far. Experienced striker Benjani Mwaruwari of Blackburn Rovers in probably the world's best soccer league, the Barclays English premiership, is getting more game time this time around. Edward Sadomba of African club giants Al Hilal is back in form and scored over the weekend to inspire his club to a semi-final berth in the CAF Confederations Cup.

Good Support from the FA

Despite its shortcomings, the current ZIFA board has tried its best to provide support for Saintfeit to get all the players he needs for his first game in charge, against Cape Verde. ZIFA is prepared to fly into the country about 20 foreign-based players.

Though the act of calling two many players sounds like an exaggerated act from ZIFA or a sign of poor planning on the part of the technical team, it nonetheless shows commitment to give support to the coach by the new ZIFA leadership.

The mother body is led by imperfect people, just like all of us are imperfect, but credit must be given where it is due. Giving the technical team support is the way to go by far.

Never in the history of ZIFA has any other coach received such overwhelming support when it comes to calling players for important games. Even the fan idol Reinhardt Fabisch used to bemourn lack of funds to call on all the players he needed to assess before important matches. Saintfeit doesn't seem to have any such problems for the Cape Verde match. 

Competitive Salary

Saintfeit is rumoured to be on a competitive salary of $7 000 per month, plus support for his accommodation from ZIFA, an Isuzu double cab for his use during the duration of his tenure as Warriors coach. Its possible that there should be a petrol allowance, among other bonusses for winning matches and qualifying the Warriors for the AFCON finals.

It is to be noted that the two coaches who qualified the Warriors for the 2004 and 2006 afcon finals, Sunday Chidzambwa and Charles Mhlauri respectively, did not earn such a salary during their times, yet the delivered on their mandates.

It is no secret that ZIFA does not have much money to foot the salary bill for the coach and to do all that the association is trying to do. The nation hopes that all this money paid to Saintfeit is good investment into Zimbabwean football.

A fairly good start to the AFCON campaign

A lot has been said about how great the result against Liberia in Monrovia was. Perhaps now is not the best time to get into the debate whether that result was the best result Zimbabwe could have come out of Monrovia with.

What is clear however is that Saintfeit has a point from the away match against Liberia, and he needs just a win to top Group A, barring any surprises in the Mali/Liberia game. Mali is expected to win against Liberia when they host the Lone Star on 10 October, this weekend.   

Saintfeit, who appears to be an individual who fins it easy to complain about his employers, appears to be speaking with maturity when he speaks about his new employers ZIFA. Maybe it is early days yet.

Saintfiet recently lambasted his former employers, the Namibian Football Association for lacking seriousness in their management of the Brave Warriors affairs. He appeared quite desperate to coach the Zimbabwean Warriors.

Warriors fans will be hoping that the hunger and desire to coach Zimbabwe which Saintfeit demonstrated before his appointment is for real and can be the kind of passion that rubs onto his new team and players.

Africa is tired of a mercenary attitude towards work that has been displayed by many European coaches who have come to Africa and left many African teams in the cold after building their profiles.

Good recent examples include Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac who achieved some measure of success with Ghana's Black Stars at this year's world cup in South Africa. When Ghana desperately needed Milo to continue with his revolution, he dumped the team for a Saudi Arabia club that offered him a more lucrative salary than Ghana could afford.

One thing is sure though, every young coach is hungry to build a reputation, and when his profile grows and he attracts a better salary, in real life a coach who has a family to feed is expected to pack his bags and go for the greener pastures.

It is amazing how people expect coaches to behave differently to all the other employees in the world. If Saintfeit manages to build a good profile with the Warriors, achieves success by qualifying them for their third afcon finals, and wants to leave for greener pastures, the soccer loving Zimbabwean public must be prepared to let him go.

After all has been said and done, this point needs to be remembered. Tom Saintfeit has walked into a very demanding job. The Warriors coaching job is not one for sisies. Nothing short of qualification will satisfy the demanding Zimbabwean fans.

On Sunday, Tom has the opportunity to silence all doubting Thomases and win the love and admimiration of close to 50 000 fans who will fill the stadium. He has every playing material at his disposal to do the job and he has no excuses for failure.

In Harare and Bulawayo, a draw at home is as good as a defeat, while a defeat is viewed to be as treacherous as a betrayal. Saintfeit is surely a man under pressure, but he seems to be handling the pressure fairly well.

With 11 foreign-based players having arrived already for camp, and many other expected to arrive today, the Warriors under Saintfeit will be expected by the fans to deliver on Sunday at the National Sports Stadium.

Meanwhile, all 10 South Africa-based players are already in camp. These include the Kaizer Chiefs quartet of Tinashe Nengomasha, Thomas Sweswe, Zhaimu Jambo and Knowledge Musona, Mamelodi Sundowns trio of Nyasha Mushekwi, Method Mwanjali and Esrom Nyandoro, Tafadzwa Rusike of Ajax Cape Town, Oscar Machapa of Moroka Swallows and Tapuwa Kapini of Platinum Stars.

Costa Nhamoinesu of Zaglebie Lubin in Poland is also in camp. Captain Benjamin 'Benjani' Mwaruwari of Blackburn Rovers, Onismor Bhasera of Plymouth Argyle, both from England, Vusa Nyoni of Germinal Beerschot in Belgium, Justice Majabvi of LASK Linz in Austria and Quincy Antipas of Sonderjyske in Denmark are all expected to arrive by tonight.


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