Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
FC PLATINUM’S humiliation in Tanzania is a sad reflection of the horrible state of Zimbabwe football and the game’s legends are calling for an overhaul of the administration to save the sinking ship.
The country’s richest football club suffered a 1-5 hiding at the hands of Young Africans in a Confederation Cup tie.
Their capitulation comes at a time when Zimbabwe football is bleeding from the expulsion of the Warriors from the 2018 World Cup after the ever bungling ZIFA failed to pay former Warriors coach Valinhos.
Memory Mucherahowa, George Nechironga and Paul Gundani said FC Platinum’s loss, which echoed the Warriors preliminary round defeat to Tanzania in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers, points to a nation in crisis.
Champions Dynamos who reached the Champions League final in 1998 have repeatedly failed to make a mark in recent years and suffered a six-goal humiliation in Tunisia against Esperance three years ago.
Mucherahowa said Zimbabwe have a tradition of putting wrong people to lead the game and the country was now paying a huge price.
“We used to celebrate if we were drawn to play a team from Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya and so on because we knew they were almost like walk-overs,” said the former DeMbare skipper, who led his team to the ’98 Champions League final.
“Our only problem was with the North African teams, but it seems any team is now a threat. It’s hard to believe, but to me there are only two situations of what could have happened — it’s either those teams are improving fast or it is us who are actually going down.
“But either way it shows there is a problem. Something is definitely wrong with Zimbabwean football.
“From my analysis, I think we are moving in reverse while others are progressing forward. We need to try fresh ideas by bringing in people who have football roots into administration.
“The leadership has failed football big time in Zimbabwe. Why do we have businessmen and politicians coming to run football when they know nothing about the game? Why is it that former players are always sidelined?
“We discuss football as former players and the consensus out there is that the Zimbabwe situation now needs former players to step in.”
He said only former players could rescue the game.
“Players go through some hard and painful experiences and I believe those experiences will give them a better appreciation of what it means to lead others who are in the trenches,” said Mucherahowa.
“What can a businessman, a former teacher or a politician feel for an 18-year-old player who has chosen football as a career path?
“To move forward we need a change of personnel. Let’s try to bring in former players in positions of authority. Zambia tried it with Kalusha Bwalya and they are enjoying the results.
“It’s not about the money or the ability to raise the nomination fees for election, but the football brains and the passion.
“Fine, the moneyed doctors, the businessmen, the politicians and educated former teachers are running the show in Zimbabwe and what have they done to show for it?
“It’s like myself contesting to lead a music band when I know nothing about music. Isn’t that a joke? So why are we having that in football? Former players should come to the rescue of our game.
“I know some have tried it and were frustrated when they tried to contest but look what is happening, we are losing to small teams, properties are being auctioned, we can’t pay coaches, can’t export players to bigger European leagues, yet we have those so-called educated and wealthy people at the helm.”
Former CAPS United striker, Nechironga, shared the same sentiments with Mucherahowa.
“Zimbabwe football is in a downward spiral. It’s there for all to see. It’s a disgrace that we find our football in such depths,” said the 1990 Soccer Star of the Year.
“We have some of the best talent in Southern Africa, but we can never realise their potential as long as there is no good leadership.
“The people at Zifa have lost track of their mandate because they are always involved in politics at the expense of developing the game.
“Look at our neighbours Zambia. We are almost at par in terms of talent, but what makes them complete is that they have a football person, in the form of Kalusha, at the top.
“We need someone here in Zimbabwe with the same passion to take over. It’s better to be led by a poor blind person who has football at heart than rich people who are not concerned.
“Daily the association’s property is being auctioned and you can’t imagine we don’t have national teams, except the Under-23 side, because they are preparing for the Olympic qualifiers.
“Soon we will not have any national team to support. I even ask myself why our children should suffer this catastrophe when we have the potential to be at the top.”
He said a lot of talent was being wasted.
“We have so much talent going to waste because there is no motivation to take football as a serious career. Football should be an industry, but it’s difficult in Zimbabwe,” said Nechironga.
“Right now there is not going to be World Cup for us.
“Imagine how talented players like Khama Billiat or Knowledge Musona are going to be disadvantaged. The responsible minister should set up an inquiry and take these people to task.”
Paul Gundani, who is now the secretary-general of the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe, said FC Platinum’s failure was a reflection of a nation in crisis.
“You can’t really differentiate between the performance of the national team and how the clubs fare in continental competitions,” said Gundani.
“The current state of affairs in Zimbabwe football is hopeless. It doesn’t promise the younger generation a future.
“In fact it is very discouraging to the talented youngsters because the environment they find themselves in is not conducive for success.
“We used to win easily against East African teams and it was no surprise that we won the Cecafa tournament when we were invited in the ‘80s. We managed to win simply because our standards of football were better than the East and Central Africa teams.
“The national team usually is the indicator of where your game is. Even our rankings then were far much better than most of these teams. Unfortunately we are now the laughing stalk of everyone.
“I believe we have the talent, but we are letting ourselves down by our administration. We must have proper systems in place. Let’s professionalise our structures and change the approach in running our football.”