ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe football fans are shaking their heads in disbelief after their beloved Warriors became the first team to crash out of the 2016 Africa Nations Championships.
Coach Kallisto Pasuwa has already apologized for the national squad’s poor performance blaming it partly on shoddy preparations for the tournament.
Excited Zimbabwe football fans packed drinking places Saturday to watch their team play only to be disappointed after the Warriors missed a glut of chances before crumbling to a 1-0 defeat to the Eagles of Mali.
The defeat saw the Warriors in rock bottom position on the four-team table without a point after two games.
With Mali on four points and Zambia having qualified on six points, the Warriors have no chance of qualifying for the quarter finals even if they win their last game against Uganda as they will only have three points.
However, there is no agreement on what really caused the Warriors’ fall from grace with all sorts of theories being drummed up.
Some say the Warriors preparations were shoddy, others say Zimbabwe does not have quality players while another school of thought is of the opinion that Kalisto Pasuwa is not the right man to coach the Warriors.
Soccer fan, Bevan Gonese, feels the Warriors were not good enough for the tournament, adding that the Zimbabwean team was put in its rightful place.
“We don’t have quality players and it showed. Our coaches should dump the players they have and go out scouting in division one.”
Football analyst, Farai Kambamura, says the Warriors’ performance justifies the means as the Zimbabweans did not prepare well enough for the tournament.
“The performance of our Warriors was shoddy. It was poor. If we can sum up that we say, if you do not prepare well you are preparing to
The Zimbabwe Football Association did not organize even a single friendly match for the Warriors prior to the start of the tournament.
A member of the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association, Witness Masocha, says it is wrong to point fingers at the coach and his players. He says Zifa badly let the team and the nation down.
“I think their preparations were very weak. They did not have much preparations. Precisely, I blame on Zifa. They should actually have entertained those guys out for friendly matches.”
However, there are others who have extended the debate to coach Pasuwa, whom they are questioning whether he is the right man to handle the Warriors or that he is over rated.
According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, Pasuwa said he would have done much better than settling for the wooden spoon in Rwanda where he featured mostly young players that he is grooming for the senior squad.
He partly blamed the loss to poor preparations for the tournament as his squad did not have some warm up friendlies.
But Gonese says the results of the Africa Nations Championships clearly exposed Pasuwa’s shortcomings at such a high level of competition
“Pasuwa is good at club level not at national level. Maybe we should get somebody from outside the country.”
Warriors Fan club member, Tongesai Matapure, says Pasuwa failed in his team selection and did not give the team the technical direction it required.
He says the most honourable thing for Zifa is to fire Pasuwa before Zimbabwe faces more disasters.
The Warriors are now in danger of finishing the tournament without a single point as there is no guarantee that they will overcome Uganda on Wednesday.
Gonese says judging by their performance in the two matches they have played, the Warriors are unlikely to beat the Cranes.
“If we could not score a goal in our first two games, how can we expect to beat Uganda?”
The Warriors are now shifting their attention to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in which they are joint top of their group along with Swaziland.
After two rounds of matches, the Warriors have four points, the same as Swaziland while Guinea and Malawi have a point each. Only one team from the group qualifies for the finals to be held in Gabon.