Let us build on Chan achievements

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THE third edition of the African Nations Championship (Chan) has come and gone — it is now in the annals of history — but a few things are worth mentioning and among these is a pat on the back for the Zimbabwe national soccer team for an historic achievement.

This is the first time the Warriors have gone this far in the contnental finals.

While applauding the performance by national coach Ian Gorowa and his team, sight must not be lost of the great need to carry the momentum of this wonderful achievement going forward.

One of the many weaknesses that has afflicted Zimbabwe football over the years is the failure to capitalise and build on achievements.

We have invariably failed after creating so much hope and it is the earnest prayer of those seasoned in our football that this familiar pattern does not come back to haunt us this time around.

Now that Gorowa has proved his coaching prowess, it must be ensured that he keeps his post and is given adequate resources — especially time and money — to build on this success by perodically calling up the squad for training and even playing in friendly matches.

The usual flurry of friendly matches we see in the lead-up to international competitions does not allow the coach to experiment with combinations and even on-field temperaments. Now, inbetween competitions, is the time to do that.

The performance in South Africa is a perfect launchpad for the bigger African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament whose finals are pencilled for Morocco next year.

While Chan is purely for players plying their trade in domestic leagues; Afcon involves players in foreign leagues.

It is obvious that the core of the Zimbabwe national team will be drawn from players that were at the recent Chan finals given that we do not have such brilliant exports.

In any case most of our exports are in South Africa, a country whose domestic league is arguably far behind our Castle Lager Premier Soccer League in standards of play.

One of the issues Gorowa needs to look at now is the composition of the national team, especially age-wise. Zimbabwe had the second-highest, or oldest, average-age of 29 years at the Chan tournament in South Africa.

What this says is that most of the players Gorowa had in South Africa are still available for Morocco next year, but will not be available for the qualifiers of the 2018 World Cup.

Therefore, there is need for Gorowa to start looking at younger players and begin to gradually blood these into the national team.

There is also need for Gorowa to ask for and be given funds for participation in as wide a range of international football competitions as possible, especially the varous age-group Fifa tournaments — the Under-17 and Under-23 World Cups and the Olympic Games.

Successfully competing in these tournaments creates and provides a continuous supply belt for the senior national team.

Participation also allows the engendering of appropriate big-match temperaments at an early age and this certainly augurs well for success at senior level.

Gorowa needs to keep as many of the players he had in South Africa together at national level. The success in South Africa has created a certain level of camaradie, or esprit de corps and this can only be maintained and fostered by keeping as many of these players together.

 How Mine FC embark on their maiden voyage into Africa with the first leg of their CAF Confederation Cup when they meet Chuoni FC of Zanzibar at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday.

Every Zimbabwean wishes them victory, not only in the first leg, but in the return a week later.

By the way Zanzibar is politically part of Tanzania, but is a separate entity in football, much like the case with England, Wales and Scotland vis-a-vis Great Britain.

Prophet Blessing Chiza has been in the newspapers of late, what with his predictions of outcomes of Zimbabwe’s matches at the recently-concluded Chan finals.

My best advice for Chiza is stay out of football, especially predicting results.

There is enough work on the pulpit without dabbling in football and there is a lot of the Lord’s sheep needing attention that is far more valuable than football.

There are a lot of us who are hungry, sick and ill, lonely and bereaved and these need Chiza more than footballers who are earning a good day’s salary even if they lose!