Over a month since assuming office, the Zimbabwe Football Association ZIFAâ€™s new leadership holds the much awaited first board meeting tomorrow. There are great expectations within the soccer fraternity with a strong belief that a new page could be turned in the history of local football, but Sports observers say the new boardâ€™s biggest challenge will be to unlock the value that lies in football.
The controversy that has always surrounded local football is whether it is growing or is going to the drain. On the national level, some have argued that football standards are going down especially comparing to the dizzy heights reached by the dream team in the 1990s.In 1992, the warriors had the honour of being the first team to humble the hyped up Bafana Bafana side beating them 4-1 at the national sports stadium.The fact that the warriors were placed in a World Cup group that had Egypt and managed to qualify to the next round at the expense of the Pharaohs is evident that Zimbabwe was a great football nation by then.
Despite all the hype that came with beating such teams as Egypt and Cameroon, the warriors never made it to the World Cup and only made their debut at the Africa Nations Cup in 2004. Some have argued that the 2004 and 2006 Nations Cup qualification was testimony that local football had matured. Recently the warriors have not done enough to convince the nation that they have come of edge with failures to qualify for both the 2010 AFCON and World Cup.
At the time the national team was slipping, the clubs were slowly stamping their authority with Dynamos and Monomotapa reaching the mini-league phase of the Champions League on two successive years. This year, again the Glamour Boys are on course to reach the mini-League phase while Caps United might also make it. As it is, noone can dispute the value that is within Zimbabwean soccer. Yet the question remains whether this has been realized. Football analysts and stakeholders believe there is much value which has been grossly undermined over the past two decades. They say it is now time that the newly elected ZIFA board releases the worth of football in this country and bring back Zimbabweâ€™s status as a powerhouse in Africa.
Sports consultant Sheppard Chiware says the new board should first understand the significance of football before meeting out any plans for the revival of the sport indicating that football is a reality and the board should now walk its talk by implementing their promises
Chiware said the new board should shun the short sightedness approach of their predecessors and capitalize on the input of its icons such as Peter Ndlovu let alone learn from established model associations such as South Africa.
A key stakeholder in junior football says the new board should grow their aspirations from grassroots football.
After a month of familiarization in their new portfolios, hopes are that the board members have received an in-depth understanding of the situation at hand visa a viz what strategizes to implement.
The nation therefore waits in anticipation as Cuthbert Dube and his team makes the first strides towards the revival of the game which is yearning for someone to tap from its rich veins.