PRESIDENT Mnangagwa’s authorisation this week for the Acting Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kazembe Kazembe, to come up with a special team to raise funds for the Warriors, ahead of their 2019 AFCON finals campaign next month, is a very welcome initiative.
The announcement came in the very week the Warriors started their preparations for the continent’s biggest football showcase which, for the first time, will feature 24 teams with our men having made it as winners of a tough qualifying group that included the DRC, Congo-Brazzaville and Liberia.
Unlike in their previous three appearances at the AFCON finals, our Warriors are going to the tournament amid high hopes that this exciting generation of players could write a fairy-tale in Egypt despite being thrust in a group that features the hosts.
Rapidly-improving Uganda, who will be at the finals for the second successive tournament, having missed the show for about two decades before they popped up in Gabon two years ago, and the DRC, provide the other Group A opponents for the Warriors in matches that will be played in Cairo.
Although our boys took four points from the DRC, including an impressive victory in Kinshasa, where most visiting teams find it virtually impossible to win let alone draw, there is no doubt the Congolese will be a different and tougher opponent at the AFCON finals.
They are a side which, recently, finished third in the tournament and have shown, again and again, that they are a proper tournament team who usually rise to the occasion when the showcase begins.
However, what has fuelled grand expectations among the local fans is that our team has been together for some time now, and our star players — Knowledge Musona and Khama Billiat — are coming to the peak of their athletic powers and the duo have showed that, whenever they represent their country, they transform themselves into players we can always trust.
Kazembe agrees that we have a team that can cause a sensation in Egypt.
“Our Warriors have a huge task ahead of them but it’s not something that is insurmountable,’’ he told this newspaper on Thursday.
“They have some pretty difficult games in their group and I am convinced that with proper preparations and proper support systems, anything can happen. They can do it.
“So, it is important that they play after having prepared sufficiently, and adequately, and that to happen they need resources.
“If they do well in Egypt it will be our flag, as Zimbabwe, that will be flown high and so I am appealing to Zimbabweans at large to assist our national team in whatever way they can.
“In the past, we have come short because we didn’t have the best of all preparations. This time around, the current ZIFA executive committee has done its best in trying to put together a programme in preparation for this tournament.
“What they are lacking now are the resources.’’
And, that’s exactly what this special 18-member fund-raising committee, which he heads, have been tasked to take care of in the next few weeks.
They are set to hold their first meeting on Monday and the initial task is to raise about US$500 000 which, the least, will be enough to ensure that all the requirements for the Warriors are taken care of.
We have confidence in the committee to reach their targets because a number of men and women, of honour, have been thrust into that team and they have the capacity to make this exercise a success story.
The blending of those who have been chosen could not have been more perfect and, when you see the sum of their individual capacities, there is no doubt that this special committee will deliver and ensure that our Warriors have everything they need to represent us well in Egypt.
Such a collection of men and women of integrity, who have always been in the forefront in service for their country, can never be expected to fail and it is also important that the entire country, and our corporate sector, throws its full weight behind the initiatives this committee will come with to ensure they meet their targets.
The Warriors do not belong to ZIFA, they belong to Zimbabwe, to everyone who calls himself, or herself, a Zimbabwean and the national football leaders are only there to provide leadership to the team on behalf of this nation.
The success of the Warriors is the success of this country because they fly our flag, which they carry on every kit they use, and that is why they can never play an international football match without such a battle being preceded by the singing of our national anthem.
We all have a responsibility to ensure that our Warriors are well supported, to ensure that they will be in the best frame of mind when they represent us in Egypt, and that is why it is important that we support this special 18-member committee which now begins the task of securing the funds needed for this important national assignment.