THE Warriors will begin their quest for the 2026 World Cup today in Rwanda when they take on the East Africans in the opening match of our group campaign.
It’s a huge match, not only because of the points on offer but because this signals our return to international football after more than a year on the sidelines.
This followed the decision by FIFA to suspend us because they were not happy with the interventions, which had been made by the Sports Commission, to try and arrest the chaos which was in our national game.
It became very clear, a few years ago, that Felton Kamambo, who was elected ZIFA president in what was largely a protest vote against Philip Chiyangwa, wasn’t equipped to provide real leadership which was needed to take our game the extra mile.
He appeared overwhelmed by the responsibility and reports that he took his family, and the pastor who presided over his wedding, to watch the Warriors at the 2019 Nations Cup finals in Egypt, illustrated how he was out of touch with the demands of his position.
These are slots which were meant for the ordinary fans of the Warriors, men and women who were expected to sing and dance at the stadiums in Egypt as a way of trying to inspire their national team, which ended up being taken by his family and wedding pastor.
Junior football, which should be given priority all the time because it is the only way to guarantee a steady supply of fresh and talented players who can then play for the national team, was ignored during Kamambo’s era as the ZIFA boss.
Funds, which were meant for the development of women football, an area we had shown promise that we could be a force to reckon with, kept being diverted into other areas.
So, we repeatedly heard the cries of those who were leading women football, especially Barbra Chikosi, complaining that the funds from FIFA, which were clearly meant to service her constituency, were not being allocated for the purpose they were released for by the world football governing body.
Without the funds, our women’s game suffered terribly and our national team, which was good enough to play at the 2016 Olympics, as one of two representatives from Africa, faded so badly that they were now being beaten by every other side.
But, that is all in the past.
What is important right now is that we are back in international football and the people who were holding us back, especially Kamambo and his crew, have been forced out of our game.
We know that we didn’t have the right preparations for this game because those in charge of our football slept on duty and decided not to use the windows which FIFA availed for friendly matches.
But, we are Warriors and what makes us different from others is that we know how to fight, especially when the odds are heavily stacked against us.
Hopefully, our boys will come to the party.