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Chunga's Cosafa humiliation

by Staff reporter
30 Jul 2017 at 07:49hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE's dismal performance at the ongoing Under-17 Cosafa Challenge Cup in Mauritius has left more questions than answers.

The Moses Chunga-coached lads found the going extremely tough, failing to record a single win against opposition such as Mauritius, Malawi and Botswana, which Zimbabwe has always dominated with ease.

Most painful was the 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Malawi. There was then another 2-1 defeat by neighbours Botswana and a narrow 1-0 loss to the hosts.

The team conceded eight goals, the highest compared to all the competing teams in the group, while they only managed a single goal, a shockingly paltry return for a nation that has produced some of the finest strikers in the region.

Many would have thought that the good times were just about to start rolling for the junior national team following the appointment of Bambo, as Chunga is affectionately known. Bambo is famed for getting the best out of young players.

Chunga decried age-cheating at the regional tournament when the going got tough.

"If you look at Malawi and Zambia, they are like our players whom we left behind at home since they did not meet the criteria. Their calves are heavily built, their physique and knowledge of football is more advanced.

"And you will see that in this case, the Under-17 tournament merely becomes the name of the tournament," Chunga was quoted as saying after the mauling by Malawi.

The sad truth, however, is that Zimbabwe is paying the price for neglecting the junior teams in recent years.

Last year, the local football governing body did not register to take part in the Cosafa Under-17 Youth Championships which were also held in Mauritius. It also withdrew the Young Warriors from the CAF Under-17 Africa Nations Cup qualifiers, citing financial challenges.

Zimbabwean football's lack of seriousness when it comes to junior football is also reflected in the haphazard manner in which the junior teams prepare for regional and continental tournaments.

Chunga was appointed coach of the Under-17 team barely 30 days before the Cosafa challenge Cup.

He even apologised for not being able to travel far and wide in order to broaden his catchment area in scouting for talent.

"People will have to forgive me this time around because the time frame that I had to select the team was limited. I did not visit many places like Masvingo, Mutare and several other towns because of the little time I had.

"It was certainly not my intention to leave out footballers from these places but when I come back I will be correcting this anomaly," he told a local publication.

Chunga was left with no choice but to select players from a few local schools and select academies, as there are no proper junior football structures in the country.

In other countries, young players are exposed to intense competitive football as part of junior teams for top clubs in the country competing in junior leagues.
In Zimbabwe very few teams have junior structures.

And when budding footballers playing at school meet opposition that is competing week in and week out at their club academies, the difference is bound to be remarkable, as evidenced by what happened in Mauritius.

If losing to Malawi, Mauritius and Botswana in a single tournament does not ring alarm bells for football authorities, one wonders what will.

Efforts to get comment from Chunga on the team's performance were fruitless as he did not respond to questions sent to him, while other local junior coaches refused to give their assessment of the team's campaign due to fear of victimisation.

Cosafa Under-17 Cup Challenge Zimbabwe results

Mauritius 1-0 Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe 0-5 Malawi

Zimbabwe 1-2 Botswana

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