Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
MOSES CHUNGA says he is not excited about the 2015 Nations Cup finals which get underway in Equatorial Guinea on Saturday, because the three weeks of the football festival will be another reminder of how much the Warriors have lost their way in international football.
The Zimbabwe football legend, a former Warriors’ skipper who also briefly worked as part of the coaching staff, led by Charles Mhlauri, which took the team to their last Nations Cup finals in Egypt in 2006, said he wasn’t one to adopt and support other national teams.
Bambo told The Herald yesterday that it was sad that Zimbabweans were now getting used to adopting and supporting other national teams at the Nations Cup finals, rather than reflecting on how they failed to be part of the continent’s biggest football festival.
The Warriors crashed out at the preliminary round of the 2015 Nations Cup qualifiers last year, their lowest point since they marked their debut in the tournament with an impressive 1-0 win over Malawi in Blantyre on October 26, 1980.
Tanzania, the continental lightweights who elbowed the Warriors out of the first round of the qualifiers, were then beaten in the next round by Mozambique who, however, failed to qualify for the finals from a group that featured Zambia and Cape Verde.
Chunga said while he will watch some of the 2015 Nations Cup finals, as a coach who wants to keep learning, he was disappointed that he would not do so as a fan who could have been backing his own national team in Equatorial Guinea.
“It’s becoming something like a syndrome, when you think about it, where we are all content to adopt other nations and support them at the AFCON finals as if we don’t have our national team and players who should be gracing that stage,” Chunga said.
“For some of us, it’s very disappointing because we are fiercely patriotic and so proud that we can’t adopt other teams and pretend that we are Cameroonians today, Ivorians tomorrow and so forth until the tournament ends.
“I only support one national team, and these are the Warriors and I can’t adopt another national team, and that is why I will be pained once again that my team will not be playing at this AFCON finals because, as far as I’m concerned, there is no reason why we should not be there.
“We have the players who are just as good as those who will be playing in Equatorial Guinea and we have passionate supporters and that is why I believe that, instead of spending the next three weeks supporting other teams, we should actually be sitting down as the football community and asking ourselves tough questions as to why we are not there.
“We should be using these three weeks to look at our football, what is it that we need to do to improve it, so that when we compete again for the tournament in 2017, we ensure that we have a team that can go there and be part of the finals, giving our fans something to cheer.
“I will watch some of the games but I won’t lie to you that I will lose sleep if some of the teams lose because I won’t have the same adrenalin that I would have had if the Warriors were playing at that tournament and I could sit at home, grab a beer and watch my boys in action.”
Chunga, who is the chairman of the Soccer Coaches Union of Zimbabwe, said he will not stop working until he finds a solution that will strengthen Zimbabwean football and help the Warriors become perennial campaigners at tournaments like the Nations Cup finals.
“I did my beat as a player and captained the national team and my calling right now is to ensure that, as coaches, we find a way to develop our game and that should end with the Warriors and the Young Warriors becoming successful units that can play at the finals of these African tournaments,” said Chunga.
“As a union, we have been working closely with the ZIFA technical director (Maxwell Takaendesa Jongwe) and for all the things that people might say about him, I can tell you that we have found him to be very resourceful.
“He listens to what we tell him and he acknowledges that there can’t be a TD without the coaches and we have to work together, for the development of our game, rather than spend time fighting each other as has been the case in this country for the past few years.
“We are grateful that he has opened some avenues where we can meet and discuss how best we can take our game forward and, to us, that is progress because if we fight, as we usually do, there can only be one loser and that is our national game.
“If ever we want to see how much our game has suffered, we just have to look at the teams that are in Equatorial Guinea and we can see that while others have been progressing we have been stuck in one place because we have been fighting all the time.
“The engagement that we have had with the TD has been very good and we believe that is the right direction that we should take if we really want to take our game forward, it’s not about us but about the future generations, the boys and girls in school, and we need to leave them with something that they can built on.”
Chunga also urged ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube to go ahead and take stock of the human resources running the game in this country.
“The ZIFA president said that he wants to take stock of the human resources in charge of our game and that’s an area that I have always been concerned about because, when I look around, I don’t see the people whose daily job is to run our football doing just that,” said Chunga.
“My advice to him is that this should not just be about talk and little action, but that there is need for real action that will see real changes and I say to him ‘mukoma kana modya imbwa, idyai iri hono kwete tupopi hatuna chatunoziva’.
“We want to move forward and we are set to hold a coaching course for former national team players so that we bring them into the fold and this should happen either in February or March this year.
“We have already drawn a list that we want to start with — Brenna Msiska, Friday Phiri, Joey Antipas, Cosmas Zulu, Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo, Douglas ‘British’ Mloyi, Raphael Phiri, Stix Mtizwa, Wonder Chaka, Methembe Ndlovu, Solomon Kaseke, Charles Sibanda, Angirai Chapo, Weekly Mwale, David George, Carlos Max, Amin Soma, Maronga Nyangela.
“They can contact me or our secretary-general Newsome Mutema for further details and the programmes that we want to roll out for them.”