Phillip Zulu in LEEDS, England
THE recent debut game in Algeria for young Bournemouth first team player Jordan Zemura was most welcome and belatedly a sad reflection of how our national football teams in Zimbabwe lack strategic planning and development of the wider human resources awash in top global leagues.
That Jordan was hurried to play such an important fixture tells us one thing in common: the desperation levels of a thin squad lacking in quality players with high pedigree to compete against the likes of Riyad Mahrez and his team-mates who play for top leagues in Europe.
That desperation signalled the inclusion of 21-year-old Zemura who had never kicked a ball for his country even in the Under-17-23 junior national teams, something that should be qualified as a serious and critical argument on another good day of how best to project modern international junior football development in fast changing global football environment.
The fact that we are ranked 111th in world football, it’s our prerogative to fully understand this index in terms of the impact it has upon all our activities of the national teams on the international scene and, how we should seek to capitalise the networth of our new young fledging talents such as Zemura, who is slowly establishing himself in the tough fixtures of the English Championship Division, where teams fight for promotion into the Premiership league with tenacity and grit.
Jordan’s performance in Algiers was most welcome, a good solid display by a young athlete who had never been involved with international football at any level yet, he stood up for the marauding Desert Foxes gallantly without showing any fear or timidity.
These qualities are by far the most indelible marks any professional player should exhibit at any level of football.
He never looked out of place and played with composure, much to the surprise of most Algerian fans based here in England who made a bee-line phone calls asking me about this young player whom they rated highly.
Having a young player who is comfortable in most positions in defence and midfield is a huge factor in our national team. This gives any coach wide choices and options as witnessed in Algiers by Loga, when his gamble paid off and calmed his nerves by planning for the return leg in Harare where he executed a tactical plan based on the 3-1 defeat.
Credit should also go to the coach who believed in Zemura straight from day one. Our football development programmes in Zimbabwe owe Zemura and the multitude of fans a deep humble apology as to why he was never invited in the junior national teams so that his progress and development was done much earlier.
I imagined if he was recruited much earlier at 15 years of age to start playing for the Under-17 national team, at this stage we should be talking of a totally different player as opposed to the knee-jerk reaction that we witnessed in the last four weeks and a sudden shift of eating a humble pie was made by inviting him for a crunch fixture against Algeria.
Kudos to Zemura for being resilient and showing a high level of professionalism during both games, otherwise it could have been a huge disaster and embarrassment had he developed cold feet and lost confidence in such a definitive important fixture.
The Bournemouth fullback has given hope to every youngster out there that when one is determined, full of coverage and has been well developed at junior level of football, they can perform well at the highest stages of international fixtures against top footballers like Mahrez.
This is the Eureka moment for Zimbabwean football. Suddenly we are faced with an imperious situation that requires instinctive solutions and, indeed Zemura is our Eureka King.