By Thembinkosi Mangena
ÂThe moment I saw a banner written â€˜ZIFA suspends 82 players,â€™ I nodded with satisfaction that ZIFA is at last showing its commitment to get rid of corruption and unprofessionalism in the most beautiful game.
Of course, this is a clear sign that after years of unprofessionalism in the running of our local football, the current crop of ZIFA leaders is on the verge of opening a new chapter in the history of Zimbabwean football.
Match fixing should never be allowed in football. It remains one of the major vices that the world football governing body, FIFA is fighting, of course together with racism and other forms of discrimination.
While FIFA tries to fight this vice, national associations such as ZIFA equally have the obligation to complement these efforts so that the most beautiful game becomes indeed beautiful.
I believe that in order to send a stern warning to all footballers and administrators, FIFA and national associations should show no mercy for the perpetrators of such activities. In the Zimbabwean case, these players and administrators did not have mercy on the national pride and they stand responsible for the tumbling of the Warriors on the FIFA rankings after losing to minnows like Singapore and Thailand, among others.
This is however not good news for Zimbabwe as key players have all been suspended. Method Mwanjali, Thomas Sweswe, Khama Billiart, Ovidy Karuru, Gilbert Mapemba, Washington Arubi, Willard Katsande, Cuthbert Malajila and Edward Sadomba, among others, have all been implicated in the Asiagate scandal, meaning that the nation will have to start afresh in assembling a new Warriors squad.
I know that many people would be questioning the timing of the suspensions, as we are left with about 4 weeks before the crucial AFCON 2013 qualifier encounter against Burundi on the 29th of February. I feel that ZIFA should have taken this decision soon after the teamâ€™s failure to qualify for AFCON 2012 finals currently underway in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
This would have given Coach Norman Mapeza, who should also be suspended, ample time to assess other players at his disposal and prepare for the Burundi showdown.
Although ZIFA got it wrong on the timing of the suspensions, I still commend its move to suspend the players because it is better to have a Warriors team with players whose commitment to the national cause is not questionable.
Truly speaking, I have lost confidence in some of our players especially considering how we lost that crucial match in Cape Verde. Of course, ZIFA is always to blame for such dismal performances, because it canâ€™t get it right in terms of preparing for matches, but some of our players lack the commitment which is being exhibited by the Zambian team at the ongoing AFCON 2012 in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
I would therefore agree with ZIFA board member, Benedict Moyo that â€˜We are a country with a population of about 16 million and surely cannot fail to raise a team.â€™
Moyo also reminded us of the Zambia case where almost the whole team perished but soldiered on, only to lose to Nigeria in the final of the 1994 African Cup of Nations.
The onus is now with Mapeza to assemble a new team and still try to qualify for South Africa 2013. At least there are a few players not implicated in the scandal and these should form the core of the team. We still have Knowledge Musona, Nyasha Mushekwi, Tinashe Nengomasha, Lincolyn Zvasiya, Denver Mukamba, Vusa Nyoni, Noel Kaseke, Archiford Gutu and Onismor Bhasera, among others.
Yes ZIFA has taken a commendable move but I will blame them for not tackling the match fixing scandal head on. I believe that the chief culprits of the scandal are not the players but the administrators and coaches. If ZIFA is really serious about this, then they should have started by suspending coaches, Mapeza included, who participated in the scandal as they are the ones who led the team into the jungles of Asia with sinister motives.
ZIFA should just suspend everyone involved in the scandal so that we start on a new chapter. Even current football administrators, who held posts in ZIFA during the Henrietta Rushwaya era, should also face the chop as they were nearer to sinister dealings by the ousted leadership.
Truly speaking, no one trusts these people anymore. In short, we need a complete overhaul of our local football governing body, ZIFA.
Zambia has set a good precedence by appointing a football icon, Kalusha Bwalya to be the President of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ). This is what should happen locally, shunning greedy opportunists and appointing football â€˜heroesâ€™ who have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they have the nation at heart.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the authorâ€™s and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.