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Date: 24 March 2019

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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[Posted 05 Jan 2012]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]

Dear Hon. Minister David Coltart

1. It is an open secret that today as I write to you, the Zimbabwe Senior national soccer team, affectionately known as the Warriors is in tatters and its participation in the planned international friendly against our western neighbours Botswana is shrouded in confusion.

2. Hon. Minister Coltart,  the reason why our beloved Warriors are in confusion going into an important friendly match with our neighbours is the very reason that contributed to our national team failing to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals to be played in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The reason for that failure having been precisely that the team was sent into battle without proper preparations, after Zifa had chosen not to camp at home, and players flew into Praia in different batches, with the first batch of Knowledge Musona, Vusa Nyoni and Ovidy Karuru arriving in a foreign country and for a crucial match of that magnitude on their own. I will not talk about the implications of that poor organisation given the Asia scandal whose after effects are still with us in Zimbabwean soccer today.

3. Hon. Minister, it has emerged that Warriors coach Norman Mapeza, a Zifa employee, announced a wishful squad, a very strong squad I must say of 23 players which was due to meet in Harare for a trip to Gaborone for a planned friendly with Botswana.

4. The announcement Hon. Minister, was made on 2 January 2012, just five days before the crucial friendly match, which should help the team prepare for the first leg of the 2013 qualifier against Burundi away from home, a qualifying match which is just days  away Honourable Minister. The announcement of the squad on such short notice smacks of poor organisation and a lack of professional seriousness on the part of Zifa and the coach himself. It is difficult why the national soccer governing body allowed this to happen.

5. Just days after the announcement, it emerged that ZIFA had not yet approached all or some of the clubs to release the players. Zifa Communications Officer Nicky Dhlamini was quoted in local media expressing hope that all the players were in Zimbabwe on a festive break from their clubs in South Africa and Europe.  It would appear that Zifa never made efforts to establish if all the players called were indeed in Zimbabwe or not, and wanted to use the media as a vehicle to communicate to players that they had been selected for the Botswana friendly, something unheard of in any serious footballing nation, except in Zimbabwe ofcourse (where things are done differently).

6. Ajax Cape Town, who have complained of the late notification for the release of players from Zifa before, was on record stating that they are tired of the unprofessional conduct of Zifa, wherein the mother body disregards the Fifa protocol for the release of players for national duty. Consequently, Ajax refused to release their players, Khama Billiat and Tafadzwa Rusike. A statement from the South African Club's team manager sums up the bungling by Zifa and how it damages the image of Zimbabwean football and the country at large.

"This match is scheduled outside of the Fifa calendar and we do not like to interfere in our players' deserved holidays. Furthermore we would like to bring again to your attention, we are expecting to receive call up letters for our players in due time,” said Grunewald.

"According to Fifa law and ‘Regulations on the Statutes and Transfer of Players', we are supposed to receive call up letters 15 days prior to the match . . . We made your association as well as the team manager Sharif Mussa several times already aware of these rules mentioned above - so far with no success.

"Please note in future we will not regard any call-ups which will be received after the above-mentioned Fifa guidelines and time periods and we will not release our players."

7. Hon Minister, at the time of writing, 16 of the 18 foreign-based players called for Warriors camp had withdrawn from the squad to face Botswana and the team that is set to travel to Botswana is now a makeshift squad, a team that will not have any chance to train to together. Their clubs barred them from taking part due to poor communication from Zifa.

8. In the above premises Hon. Minister, Zifa has demonstrated its inability to manage our national soccer game and is not only damaging the image and good name of our country, which many people like yourself and the Government of National Unity are fighting hard to rebuild after many years of damage, but are conspiring to take our football into the doldrums of mediocrity.

9. The obvious implications of the conduct of Zifa employees (those responsible for the national soccer teams) including the national team coach and possibly team manager is that some teams will not have the confidence to invite Zimbabwe for friendly matches or the confidence to accept invitations from Zifa, for fear of getting the disappointments that Botswana are likely to feel at playing an under-strength Zimbabwe on Saturday in Gaborone.

10. Minister, while many sympathise with the position in which Zifa finds itself in with respect to poor funding, good organisation and good planning does not need any cent. Coach Mapeza or anyone from Zifa could have made efforts to communicate with the clubs on time.

11. Hon. Minister, it is embarrassing to the nation for the world to read that the coach had to wait up until a player reports for camp to be told by that player that he is not fit for the match (as what happened with Edward Sadomba). These are simple things which can be communicated even via facebook, twitter or e-mails and does not need any sophisticated communciation devices.

12. While it is excusable to make a mistake for the first time, repeating the same error over and over is a sure sign of incompetence. You know better than I do minister, that we can not repay incompetence by keeping the same people who have failed and embarrassed the nation over and over.

13. I therefore appeal to you, possibly on behalf of many Warriors' fans, to intervene and stop the rot at Zifa which is eroding confidence in Zimbabwe and which has increased our chances of failure at international competitions, and which has, sadly, reduced Zimbabwe further into a laughing stock among our peers in sports, world-wide!

14. We have confidence in you Hon. Minister, to do the right thing, for the love of the national game, and for the pride of our nation!

Yours in Sports




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