No more ex­cuses for War­riors

War­riors need to up their game!

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Makom­borero Mu­timukulu Sports Ed­i­tor Tino Kadewere

THE War­riors were shock­ing in the 0-1 de­feat away to Liberia last Sun­day, but their coach’s as­sess­ment of that 2019 Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fier was even more out­ra­geous. “I think it was a very good game of foot­ball,” War­riors coach Sun­day “Mhofu” Chidzambwa was quoted say­ing soon af­ter the Zim­babwe se­nior men’s na­tional foot­ball team fluffed its lines against op­po­nents who them­selves ap­peared fluffy and were there for the tak­ing.

Un­less “very good game of foot­ball” has a new mean­ing the rest of the world is un­aware of, it can be ar­gued - as it is hereby done without fear or favour - that Chidzambwa was far from be­ing hon­est in his as­sess­ment.

If that was “a very good game of foot­ball” then why are we not cel­e­brat­ing a fourth Af­con qual­i­fi­ca­tion?

“A very good game of foot­ball” gave Liberia a kiss of life and gave the Zim­babwe a Ju­das kiss.

“A very good game of foot­ball” en­sured Congo Braz­zav­ille will make the trip to Harare in March 2019 with some­thing to play for. Come on Mhofu, who are you kid­ding? That dis­play was abysmal, trea­sonous even, and ev­ery­one knows it.

While the War­riors still have des­tiny in their hands it must be high­lighted that not once, but twice, the ticket to Cameroon 2019 has been handed to Zim­babwe.

And not once, but twice, the War­riors led by Chidzambwa have spurned it.

Now, not once, but twice, the coach is wax­ing lyri­cal about medi­ocrity and the play­ers are sound­ing sheep­ish about what are un­doubt­edly sheep-like per­for­mances.

A win against DR Congo at the Na­tional Sports Sta­dium on the 16th of last month would have sealed the deal.

But the War­riors, who had stunned their South­ern African ri­vals 2-1 three days ear­lier, drew that game.

The DRC didn’t even score that night. We scored for them. We scored for our­selves. And it ended 1-all.

To his credit, Teenage Hadebe apol­o­gised for his first half own-goal.

With a trip to a beat­able Liberia fol­low­ing, and only a point stand­ing between the team and a place at the Af­con din­ner ta­ble where African foot­ball aris­to­crats dine once every 24 months, that DRC stale­mate was given a “not a bad re­sult” tag.

The sup­pos­edly eas­ier trip to Mon­rovia yielded noth­ing but em­bar­rass­ment, and Chidzambwa and his men need to be re­minded to stop tak­ing a foot­ball-mad na­tion for granted.

Yes, Tino Kadewere apol­o­gised for his self­ish­ness and missed chances. But that doesn’t cut it. The War­riors need an at­ti­tude change.

There is al­ways a ten­dency by some coaches and play­ers to dis­miss crit­i­cism with the “he-never-played-pro­fes­sional-foot­ball-so-he-can­not-be-taken-se­ri­ously” ex­cuse.

But one does not need to be a foot­ball fundi to know that the War­riors have been play­ing without con­vic­tion.

Be­sides singing the na­tional an­them at the Sa­muel Kanyon Doe Sports Com­plex last Sun­day, skip­per Knowl­edge Mu­sona and his en­sem­ble did not show re­spect for the badge, for the flag, for the na­tion.

They never got out of first gear and never looked like they wanted to get out of it.

Kadewere looked like he was go­ing through the mo­tions in his gar­den in Le Harve, France; if he was in the mil­i­tary Khama Bil­liat would have been re­ported MIA.

The only time Bil­liat was vis­i­ble was when he quickly stepped up to de­liver poor free kicks. On the bench, Chidzambwa and his a s s i s tants - Lloyd Mu­tasa and Rah­man Gumbo - looked like they were some­where far east of Tahiti without a com­pass and without a blessed breeze to steer their floun­der­ing ship to land.

It was as clear as day­light by the 15th minute that the War­riors were lack­adaisi­cal against op­po­nents they smacked 3-0 in their Group G opener back in July 2017.

And in­stead of light­ing a fire un­der the play­ers, the coaches sat there as if they were in a bor­ing Sun­day School class and couldn’t wait to get home to watch WWE Survivor Se­ries.

It was not un­til Liberia took the lead through skip­per Wil­liam Je­bor on 72 min­utes that Chidzambwa’s heart beat ap­peared to change, some stir­ring of life com­ing into him. But the horses had bolted. The Congo game is four months away and the mes­sage Chidzambwa and his team need to be told is short and clear: Zim­babwe de­serves bet­ter, Zim­babwe de­mands bet­ter!

Th­ese are the War­riors. Not sissies.

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