As the Warriors prepare for their date in the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt, football legend Moses Chunga has warned the country needs a strong back-up junior development system to keep the conveyor belt running.
The Warriors, who made it to the finals of the 2004, 2006 and 2017 editions, have enjoyed back-to-back success stories after sealing their place at this year’s jamboree in Egypt from June 21-July 19.
Chunga said Zimbabwe should be developing the next generation of players to take over when the likes of Khama Billiat, Marvelous Nakamba, Ovidy Karuru, Danny Phiri and Knowledge Musona, who are now in the advanced stages of their careers.
“I am happy for the Warriors, but let’s see to it that we do more for our football,” said Chunga.
“That is why in human development you needed to start as low as kindergarten and ECD until you reach the highest level. In our football, we have a big vacuum between junior football and senior level. We are in some kind of quagmire. I am worried if this crop that we have departs, who will fill in that gap?
“We have to put things in the right perception. We need a clear development policy, the system must be there which supports development. If we do it right, we will not be even surprised because we have the potential.
“There is enough talent even to reach the AFCON final.”
He said it was worrying the nation always have to hastily assemble teams from nothing whenever age-group tournaments arise.
“There must be clear systems and mechanisms to guard against age-cheating,” said Chunga. “We have to develop the right kind of players for our national teams. The problem, probably, is that we have become results-oriented as a nation, without investing much into the grassroots.
“People are obsessed with using experienced players, but you can’t buy experience.
“You can only earn it through playing. But if you have not played all along, you can’t then gain it at 30. As coaches, we don’t need to be hypocrites. Take myself for example, I was given a chance to play top-flight football at 17 and now I can’t turn around and say I want to use experience, yet we have talented young players out there waiting to explode.
“I am not saying young players should be played just because they are young, but if they have the qualities, we must carefully introduce them to the stage.”