Zifa apologises

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ZIFA, after a barrage of attacks from fans and media, has apologised for the Warriors’ failure to reach the second round of the Orange 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers on Sunday.

WELLINGTON TONI
SPORTS EDITOR

The Warriors were expected to make light work of Tanzania after losing 0-1 away in the first leg, but fell short when they were held to a 2-2 home draw in front of an almost full house at the National Sports Stadium.

Fans have asked Zifa president Cuthbert Dube to take the blame and resign. Others have questioned coach Ian Gorowa’s selection while other fans believe the current players are just not up to scratch when it comes to bigger tournaments like Afcon.

Zifa’s statement reads: “The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to apologise to the football fraternity and the nation at large for the dismal performance displayed by the Warriors in our 2015 Afcon campaign. This disappointing performance brought our 2015 Afcon dream to an abrupt end .

“As Zifa, we were optimistic that the Warriors would proceed to the group stages and go on to qualify for 2015 Afcon, but it was to no avail.

“We would like to thank the government, the corporate world and fans for supporting the Warriors through thick and thin.

“Going forward, we are currently drawing up a long-term plan that will guide us to the 2014 Cosafa tournament, 2016 Chan (Africa Nations Championships), 2017 Afcon and 2018 World Cup.

“We have put in place a high performance technical committee that will meet the coach. A detailed report with recommendations will be produced and the board will inevitably implement those recommendations.

“As the football mother body we are in the process of promoting vibrant programmes for the grassroots, the Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 for both men and women.”

While Zifa are still trying to pick up the pieces from the latest tsunami, former Warriors coach and Zifa technical director Gibson Homela told Southern Eye yesterday that the Warriors should forget about playing in such tournaments.

“We must forget about Warriors and start development structures. Zifa must make sure there is quality and organised football in schools where coaches are qualified. These developmental structures must start from zonal, district, provincial and then national levels. I don’t think the Warriors problem is a coaches’ problem. The fabric is not there in the juniors,” Homela said.

“Players that are being selected are average and the task ahead is very difficult. The quality of players from the Premier Soccer League is affecting our football. As a country we are not ready to compete at this high level. We are just short-circuiting things. Now that we are out for a very long time, it’s our chance to put our acts together.”

Homela, a member of the Zifa high performance technical committee, said that body no longer exists as they are no longer consulted.

The committee appointed by Zifa in 2012 was made up of Homela, former board member (competitions) Benedict Moyo, former technical advisor and Warriors coach Dieter-Klaus Pagels, former technical director Nelson Matongorere, national coaches’ association chairman Bheki Nyoni, Aces Academy director Mark Duvillard and Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu.

The Warriors were without four key players — Knowledge Musona, Kuda Mahachi, Peter Moyo and Khama Billiat who could easily have turned the game around on Sunday.

Between now and 2017, the Warriors have to be content with playing in the Cosafa Cup in Botswana in September. This is a competition for locally-based players only.

Qualifiers for the 2016 Chan will take place next year. The qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup will begin in 2016. Zifa has to put up a team that will take part in the 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers.

While the nation is in mourning, Taifa Stars head coach Maart Nooij says his side were the real Warriors on Sunday.

“I think the Taifa Stars were warriors today. They showed a great fighting spirit. The way the game was played had a lot of quick turnovers. It was a fast game. That was magnificent,” Nooij told the Daily News of Tanzania.

Stars assistant coach Salum Mayanga praised his team’s defensive grit that ensured the Tanzanian outfit won the encounter to progress to the next round.

“Our plan was to defend because we were playing away from home. Zimbabwe were always going to attack us from the first whistle and we had to slow them down,” Mayanga said.

“I think we won this tie in Tanzania, but Zimbabwe is a good side and they played very well.”

Midfielder Kiemba was hugely excited at progressing to the next round and he said that the Stars deserved their place in the next round.

“Football is a game of chance, we got our chances and utilised them. Zimbabwe are not a bad team, but the game plan was to defend in the second half and that’s why the coaches took off the midfielders and added defenders,” he said.

“But we felt the referee was always punishing us. I have never seen such kind of officiating.”