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EDITORIAL COMMENT : Zifa have finally seen the error of their ways

IT might have taken exactly a year, but at long last, the people leading our football have finally seen the light.

In the end, it probably needed the embarrassment generated by the chaos related to preparations for the friendly international match against Malawi, for the ZIFA bosses to acknowledge the error of their ways.

It needed us to be reduced to some laughing stock, to resemble a country that cannot even do the basic thing like preparing its national football team to play in a friendly match, for them to finally do the right thing.

It needed the national coach, Zdravko Logarusic, to reconsider his association with them, after just 10 months into his job, for them to be forced to do the basic thing that we were clamouring for.

And, it needed the whole football family to once again cry foul, disappointed that their game was once again being damaged by either poor, or lack of leadership, for the bosses to act accordingly.


ZIFA’s announcement, this week, that they had appointed a general manager, for all our national football teams, is a refreshing development.

They announced the engagement of Wellington Mpandare, on a three-year contract, and his job will be to ensure that, working with the team managers who will be appointed for the various national teams, the horror of what we have been witnessing is a thing of the past.

We have confidence in the abilities of Mpandare who showed, when he was the team manager of the Warriors in the last AFCON qualifiers, and at the finals in Egypt, that he has the capacity to ensure all the logistics for the team are taken care of.

He has spent the last dozen years working in various capacities, in managing some of our top clubs and national teams, and he knows that a lot has to be done to ensure that we do not go back to what we saw in the past week when the Warriors resembled some social football team.

The ZIFA bosses should let him do his job, rather than frustrate him with interference because, as they showed in his absence, they do not have the expertise which he possesses, to ensure that our national teams are not reduced into some sort of boozers outfits.

Of course, the damage had already been done, after the wild events of last week, and not even the greatest spin doctors can sugar-coat the mess which unfolded as our Warriors prepared to travel to Malawi for that friendly international.

In more ways than one, but typical of many things that we have come to expect out of 52 Livingstone Avenue, it turned into a classic case of how not to organise such an important national assignment.

The same crippling flaws, which have stalked successive ZIFA leaders, were fully exhibited as the preparations lurched from one crisis to another and evolved into a horror show.

We acknowledge the challenges ZIFA were always going to face, in their first assignment after the lockdown period, and given that many of our stars are still reluctant to leave their foreign bases in this Covid-19 era.

But, there is something called planning, a basic requirement when it comes to leading, and it was clearly in short supply at ZIFA last week as they stumbled from one crisis to another.


How they had the nerve to end up blaming the Government, for their apparent in-house shortcomings, defies logic, but we have had this chorus from successive ZIFA bosses before.

They always try to find an alibi, to mask their administrative flaws, and there is always a third party, as far as they are concerned, making it difficult for them to act to expectations.

Even when it became clear that their request, for the Warriors to be cleared to travel to Malawi had been sent late, they still didn’t believe in taking responsibility.

Instead, as if they were serving the interests of some political parties, they decided to blame the Government to try and cover for their mistakes and score some cheap points.

Of course, it generated them some friendly headlines, in spaces where the hammering the Government has become a password for some people to start their day, but that won’t camouflage the reality that they have serious issues, in their house, which they must address.

The national football teams are only as good as they prepare for their assignments and, as has been seen again and again around the world, their real potential can only be realised if their preparations have been good.

However, when it comes to our football leaders, they seem not to attach any importance, to the preparations, and the welfare, of our players and that is the reason why a very good Warriors side, which had finished top of their qualifying group, ended up being the laughing stock of the 2019 Nations Cup finals.

A team, which had been good enough to beat the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa, something which even the best of the teams on the continent have failed to do, ended up being bottom of their table, at the Nations Cup finals, with only a point to show for their troubles.

The Warriors camp in Egypt was transformed into a toxic place, with the players engaging in running battles with the ZIFA leaders, as they demanded to be paid their dues and, sadly, time which should have been spent on the training fields, was spent in endless meetings.

Sadly, we seem not to have learnt anything from that ugly episode.


Hopefully, the coming in of Mpandare will, in a way, help address some of these issues, but clearly, the ZIFA bosses have to do more for our national teams to realise their full potential and earn the respect they deserve.