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Cheers Mhofu and cheerio!

27 Jul 2019 at 15:58hrs | Views
THIS is an open letter to Warriors coach Sunday "Mhofu" Chidzambwa proffering our two cents on what we think makes sense for the Zimbabwe senior men's soccer team . . .

First, we would like to acknowledge and doff our hat to the good work you have done with the national squad over the years you have been involved with it. You played your bit part with a measure of commitment, dedication, diligence and determination to do well, which saw us qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations finals for the first ever time in 2004. Certainly, that was success. You made history and created a legacy and no one or nothing can ever take that away from you. Without any shadow of doubt, Mhofu, you have been a pathfinder that has trailed a blaze and set a trend.

But, with all due respect, somewhere down that path you lost the plot; especially during your latest excursion in Egypt with the boys for the 2019 Afcon finals.

Well, by our book, this should be the right time for you to call time on your romance with the Warriors. Nothing lasts forever and even good things come to an end. Not that we are ungrateful for your work, please, note. We sincerely and heartily thank you lots for the services rendered, but also feel it has come to a point our senior men's football team get a different hand to steer them forward on their next phase of progress, growth and development.

It was good while it lasted but should be over now.

By superintending, from the dugout, that doomed campaign at the just-ended tournament, where you failed to lead the team out of the group stages, you effectively signed your own death warrant.

The problem perhaps lies squarely with your employers at Zifa who gave you a "free hit" at Afcon without spelling out the expectations. A performance-based contract with clearly laid down objectives and targets would have been an ideal game changer. But without one it meant you sauntered into the 2019 Afcon finals battle with a business-as-usual and casual approach without chasing any goals yet our desire was to pull through to the knockout stages for the first time ever. Also, your bosses at 53 Livingstone Avenue are guilty of complicity for failing to meticulously plan for the competition in an organised manner.

Numbers do not lie and crunching them shows that our performance levels dropped this time around in comparison with the past three editions where we had participated. We clearly retrogressed. In fact, the Warriors fared their worst of all the times we have been to the Afcon finals. For that, you have to own up to your shortcomings. Going by how things turned out at Afcon, part of it was only a good tactician-sized task and you dismally failed to execute it.

Your argument for wanting to stay on on the strength of continuity does not hold water because some debutants like Madagascar pulled their whole weight, dragged themselves to the quarter-finals and did just fine overall. Continuity, yes, we subscribe to it but only when there is discernable progress in the team and not stagnation or retrogression. And if it is continuity that you are insisting on, then in all fairness Kallisto Pasuwa and Norman Mapeza should have not left in the first place and you would have not been in the picture. You have had your chance to be in control and others deserve one, too. Norman Mapeza took charge at the beginning of the 2019 Afcon qualifiers and handed the reins over to you to finish the remainder of the campaign and that is how things sometimes work.

By your own admission, as quoted by our sister publication The Herald when you touched down in Harare from that ill-fated expedition in Cairo, you "thought the boys did well, but if you don't win games nobody will ever notice that you did well . . . We didn't do so well . . . It's unfortunate we didn't win a game which is not good for us and for the fans . . . but the negative part is for us to come back home empty-handed, without a win."

Absolutely spot on! If that was the best from you and the boys, well, it was, sadly, not good enough then! It was pathetically inadequate. It is time we told each other some uncomfortable and inconvenient truths.

If truth be told, Mhofu, at Afcon you sometimes cut a clueless figure as you appeared all at sixes and sevens with ideas to motivate your charges into inspired displays.

It would be cumbersome to delve into detail and take readers through the Afcon fiasco that it requires acres of space in this publication to exhaust it all, but the long and short of it all is that Chidzambwa and your entire backroom staff failed.

But, Mhofu, what is it that you can do for and offer to the Warriors now which you failed to in the two stints you have enjoyed with the national team during Afcon expeditions? You cannot be God's greatest gift to our football because after your historic qualification with the boys for that maiden appearance in 2004, Charles Mhlauri and Pasuwa also came along after you and worked similar magic.

Sticking around when things are clearly not working out is a sign of desperation and a recipe for potential disaster. Staying on may spectacularly backfire on you, especially now that you are being taken with a pinch of salt?

There are other circles in our game who feel you have become sort of a dinosaur in the modern game, out of depth with its contemporary demands.

Out of decorum we will not mention that word which expresses repeating the same thing all over again but expecting different results: allowing you to continue with the team would be the height of it and we should not tread down that path because we all know where it will lead to. We are now treacherously toying with mediocrity under your tutelage and that is not good for our game.

The 2019 Afcon finals has had its fare share of casualties as teams introspect. Not that we are trigger-happy and being unfair on you, but this is just one story that did not go according to the script.

Please, do not overstay your welcome and undo all the good work you have done over the years because a good dancer knows when to leave the stage. You can still play another role in our football another day, elsewhere in another capacity but, sadly, not as the Warriors coach. At least for now. If you are still around we can always call upon you to do this again if need be.

You came served, made a mark and it is now time to say goodbye. You have won us the most Cosafa Cups, yes, but that should not mask your flaws.

We meet to part and part to meet.

Thanks Mhofu and goodbye!

If it is about football that you care, let's share the cheer because we are made for the game, mad about the game!


People must stop blaming the Warriors, this is only just a game of football. To make matters worse, those who are making much noise have never played the game. Some are even finding fault with the coach and calling for the engagement of a European or foreign gaffer yet they are forgetting that the most important thing is to equip the team with everything they need for such tournaments and avoid standoffs during the competition. As Zimbabweans we need to change the way we think and do our things. – T. Zhou, Kwekwe.

Norman Mapeza for the Warriors all the way! Let Zifa swallow their pride and recall Mapeza, the tactician and realist of this game. – Rhonet Mukwewkwe.

Now that the dust has settled on the Warriors' uninspiring battle in Egypt during which they failed to conquer, it is time we took the Under 23s seriously. Let them have a good coach and play as many games as they possibly can. The current team did their best under difficult circumstances. Stakeholders in the game need to unite and build the national team. We have the talent and should not lose hope. – Tawanda Mhlanga, Dangamvura.


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