Foreign coaches are not a football mal-adminstration panacea

18 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Foreign coaches are not a football mal-adminstration panacea soccer

The Sunday News

Luckson Pasipanodya, Correspondent

Zimbabwe national team football coaching has been a two sided coin for many decades.  On one hand, there have been local coaches while on the other, a legion of foreign coaches. With both local and foreign coaches, different football clubs in the country have been successful whereas on some occasions, they miserably failed to achieve.

The corresponding trend has been characteristic with the national men’s soccer team, the Warriors.

The Warriors have been under the tutelage of 23 coaches from 1981 of which 11 were foreign and 12 local. The longest serving local coach was Charles Mhlauri from 2004 to 2007 while the Belgian, Tom Saintfeit had the shortest stint with the team from October 2010 to November 2010.

The appointment of Sunday Chidzambwa had brought hope of the senior men’s football team revival in July 2017.

He qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament.

Many soccer fans believed that, the highly successful local coach was the man to turn things around. This was based on his record as the first Zimbabwean men’s national team coach to qualify for the Afcon guiding the Warriors to the 2004 finals.

Chidzambwa wrote himself into football history when he guided the senior national team to its first international glory when he won a four-team tournament that attracted Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia as captain in 1980.

While his capabilities cannot be denied, nobody dared to suggest that the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) is the manufacturing entity for national soccer problems and it needs to be reformed in light of President Mnangangwa’s Vision 2030.

Chidzambwa’s resignation in July 2019 as national team coach was not a deliberate move. It came after Zifa used its perennial syllabus of administrative animosity against local coaches.

The head argument for changing the coach was based, as always, on the team’s failure to progress beyond group stages at the 2019 edition of Afcon while neglecting what the soccer body failed to do for the coach and the players.

That gave Zifa another opportunity to dance naked in the devil’s field by employing a foreign coach to replace the illustrious Chidzambwa.

Zifa’s affinity for foreign soccer coaches was proven by the hiring of Croatian gaffer, Zdraviko Logarusic ahead of local coaches in January 2020.

Logarusic went on to embarrass the nation at the Chan tournament in Cameroon. With only a record of six matches in charge of the Warriors, he did not show the quality of a coach he was said to be, before the national and international embarrassment.

Zifa was eventually forced to dismiss the coach in September 2021 after winning one game with the national team. The team went on to the 2022 Afcon under the tutelage of local favourite Norman Mapeza and did not do well.

It was a disjointed team which he had taken over from Logarusic. The football body should be blamed for this level of embarrassment due to its futile strategies. The hiring of a foreign coach has been part of Zifa’s agenda for many years.

This level of decision making has failed to be altered from the national soccer mother body’s strategic radar for long.

Zimbabwe has produced good local coaches like Sunday Chidzambwa, Moses Chunga, the late Rahman Gumbo, Cosmas Zulu, Methembe Ndlovu, Calisto Pasuwa, Norman Mapeza, Charles Mhlauri, Bongani Mafu, Philani Ncube, the late Misheck Chidzambwa, Ian Gorowa, Gibson Homela, Madinda Ndlovu and Joey Antipas among others.

These coaches should be incorporated into the national football administration.  Even in the midst of good advice by those who played, learnt and lived soccer, Zifa seems to prefer filling its ears with logs. It is sad to note that, Zifa sees a foreign coach as a remedy, for the national soccer team under attack by local administrative problems.

Their major reason for hiring such is the “foreign element” and nothing much.  It seems Zifa always has an unquenchable penchant for foreign coaches. Besides the late German coach Reinhard Fabisch of the ‘Dream Team Fame’ from 1992 to 1995 most foreign coaches have not done much to the game. Rather they launched an onslaught of costly tussles on unpaid salaries and allowances against the remorseless football body, Zifa.

Soccer analyst, Sakheleni Nxumalo said, “It’s risky on the wage bill to employ foreign coaches. It is advisable to come up with a contract that would equally protect Zifa in the event that the expatriate is relieved of his duties. A performance based contract clearly stipulating what is expected of the coach and what should happen if the conditions are not met, should be adopted.”

Nevertheless, the team needs to be set free from miserable maladministration which has been the football anthem for the past two decades.

Zifa has failed to learn from its mistakes and continues on the same path of wanton failure.  It is on record that the Warriors participated in the Africa Cup of Nations in the past under the guidance of local coaches namely Sunday Chidzambwa (on two occasions in 2004 and 2019), Charles Mhlauri, who was then the youngest coach at the tournament (2006) and Callisto Pasuwa (2017) and Norman Mapeza in 2022.

There is no foreign coach who managed to achieve this football mileage in Zimbabwe’s football history. This shows that, Zimbabwe has talented coaches who can lead the team, if agents abstain from interference where the leadership decides who should play in the team.

The administration seems immovable when it comes to guidance and recommendations. The team has done well and competed where it matters most, in African football.

Therefore, the team cannot be the problem to warrant changing 23 coaches with most of their tenure not even exceeding two terms.

To another extent, Zifa has neglected the adoption and implementation of appropriate policies on the development of soccer.

In other countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Cameroon, the Under-17, 20 and 23 players feed into the senior national team systematically.

Malawi based soccer fan, Bhekimpilo Moyo had this to say: “Zifa should go back to the implementation of proper policies that promote soccer so that the country will be spared from perennial embarrassment. It should understudy what happens in other countries especially those that are doing well with their local coaches.”

In 2015, the Warriors were banned from participating in the 2018 World Cup matches’ over a debt owed to Brazilian coach, Jose`Claudinei Georgian popularly known as Valinhos.  He left Zimbabwe with a bruising fight over unpaid fees against Zifa and the football governing body did not see a problem in that.  Belgian Saintfet whose tenure was the shortest is another unsuccessful foreign coach. With all these challenges affecting our football, a foreign coach surely is not a remedy to Zifa’s chronic maladministration which has destroyed football in this country. This needs to be dealt with urgently by the next Zifa Assembly.

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