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Sibanda speaks on Congo mission - Zimbabwe Today
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Sibanda speaks on Congo mission

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Sports Reporter
ZIFA vice-president Omega Sibanda says the Warriors’ 2019 AFCON qualifier against Congo in Brazzaville next weekend is a crucial game that could define the team’s quest to make back-to-back appearances at the Nations Cup finals.

The Warriors ended a decade of waiting for a return to the AFCON finals when Callisto Pasuwa led them to a place in Gabon last year where they were the only Southern African nation at the continental football showcase.

Now under the guidance of the coach who took them to their maiden appearance at the finals of the tournament, Sunday Chidzambwa, the Warriors will plunge into their second match of the tough qualifiers when they take on Congo in a difficult match in Brazzaville.

Zimbabwe lead the group after an impressive 3-0 demolition of Liberia, in their first match of the campaign, with captain Knowledge Musona scoring all three goals at the National Sports Stadium.

And Sibanda says he believes a positive result in Brazzaville could define the Warriors campaign as they battle for a place in Cameroon.

“We need a win in that game and we believe that we have the players who can deliver us that result, even though the game will be tough, and we have a number of injuries in key positions that we have to deal with,’’ said Sibanda.

“A victory in that game, our second in a row, could be huge in terms of what we want to achieve, which is to qualify for the AFCON finals for the second straight tournament.

“As ZIFA we are appealing to the corporate world and also to our Government to come on board and ensure that we prepare for this big fixture as best as we can because we have to provide the players with all the ammunition they need to go there for a win.

“ZIFA cannot do it alone because there is a massive cost to all this, the cost of accommodation, the cost of flying in the players, the cost of keeping the boys in camp and given that we have been sending all the teams — from the juniors to the senior team — and also the Mighty Warriors, the cost of doing that is huge.

“We are calling on those who want to see smiles on Zimbabweans, which come when our national teams do well, to come on board and ensure that we join hands to fight together for the cause of our country because we have a team that can really do well for us.’’

Sibanda said their leadership had relied a lot on the benevolence of their president Philip Chiyangwa and his partners who have been bankrolling their projects for a long time.

“Remember, when we came in women’s football was in limbo and we had to revive it and now we have leagues that are running and the Mighty Warriors are now playing regular football on the international scene,’’ said Sibanda.

“We have invested a lot in the junior national teams, and for us, when we consider the Under-17s, it’s not about results but development.

“We have chucked out those who had corrupted our junior teams and were bringing in over-aged players, making us win tournaments, while at the same time destroying our chances of exposing the right players to competition.

“It’s ironic that when our so-called junior national teams were doing very well in the regional and international competitions, dominating COSAFA, it was also the same period that our senior team was doing badly because some of the players we were fielding should not have been part of those junior sides.

“You can see that they never progressed, a lot of them, to make an impression in the senior team and we have had a change of direction and we now concentrate on real young players and we tell them about exposing and developing them and results are a bonus.

“This is what football development is all about and that is why we now have registered academies and we have been training our coaches in CAF B and CAF A courses and soon we will have coaches trained to have a Professional Licence.

“All this comes at a cost and that is why we are calling on those who want to be part of this national project to come on board and partner us because football is a very important game for the people of this country.’’

Sibanda said speculation related to ZIFA properties being abandoned or disposed of was not true and said they had not “lost anything at all,’’ and “we can assure you that we have moved mountains, from where the game was to where it is today.

“We will be back in the World Cup qualifiers, after we missed the last ones because we had failed to pay a coach, because we managed to settle debt owed to Tom Saintfiet and that is what matters because football is played on the pitch and not in the boardroom.’’

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