Lead­ing War­riors step down

African Independent - - SPORT - THOMAS KWENAITE

ZIM­BABWE were left to pick up the pieces of a dis­as­trous Africa Cup of Na­tions cam­paign in Gabon this week as first na­tional coach Kal­listo Pa­suwa handed in his res­ig­na­tion and his cap­tain Wil­lard Kat­sande also called time on his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer.

A vis­i­bly dis­traught Kat­sande re­fused to point fin­gers at any­one and ex­plained that they gave it their all but, sadly, it was not good enough.

“It is time for the younger gen­er­a­tion to take over,” said Kat­sande. “We would have liked to have made an im­pact here in Gabon but un­for­tu­nately it was not to be. I will al­ways re­main grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties that I was af­forded by my coun­try, but the time has come for me to step aside and en­able the younger brigade to take over.”

Af­ter a promis­ing start in which they dom­i­nated Al­ge­ria and even took a 2-1 lead, Zim­babwe’s soft un­der­belly was ex­posed as they of­fered their op­po­nents a life­line through their atro­cious de­fend­ing and the Desert Foxes drew the game level at its death.

Against Sene­gal, the Zim­bab­weans were put to the sword in a 2-0 de­feat and Tu­nisia put the fi­nal nail into their cof­fin with a shat­ter­ing 4-2 loss.

But while their de­fen­sive frail­ties were blamed for their early exit, their prob­lems can be traced to last year when Zim­bab­wean foot­ball au­thor­i­ties poorly dealt with an em­bar­rass­ing match-fix­ing scan­dal.

A highly or­gan­ised group of in­di­vid­u­als, in ca­hoots with a syn­di­cate from Singapore, was fin­gered and ac­cused to have been op­er­at­ing il­le­gally within Zim­babwe, al­legedly ma­nip­u­lat­ing the re­sults of the na­tional team’s matches.

Al­though na­tional in­tel­li­gence, as well as the South African Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing unit, the Hawks, were called in, the case ap­peared to have been hap­haz­ardly han­dled and af­ter a cou­ple of weeks it fiz­zled out with for­mer na­tional coach, Na­tion Dube, be­com­ing the only ca­su­alty. He was slapped with a sus­pen­sion.

The in­abil­ity to prop­erly deal with that case meant sev­eral play­ers found them­selves over­looked by the na­tional selec­tors. Part­son Jaure and Eric Chipeta are two play­ers most Zim­bab­weans feel should have been called up, but due to un­proven ru­mours over their al­leged in­volve­ment in the “Lim­popo-Gate” scan­dal, Pa­suwa ap­peared re­luc­tant and per­haps even scared to call them up.

And while goal­keeper Tatenda Muku­ruva was ex­cel­lent in Gabon, ques­tion marks re­main as to why Plat­inum Stars goal­keeper Pet­ros

Mhari was over­looked.

the strug­gling north­east side need now is to lose play­ers through sus­pen­sion amid a grow­ing in­jury list. A four-game ban would rule Djilo­bodji out un­til March.

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