Leading Warriors step down
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.