Inside sport: World Cup dream possible if we fix stadium crisis

The World Cup Qualifiers are still in their infancy and we still have Benin, Rwanda, Lesotho, and South Africa to visit us and we need to use our own stadium in front of our own fans to take all the 12 points on offer in those home matches.

RWANDA’S 2-0 defeat of South Africa and the manner in which Nigeria are struggling means Zimbabwe can top World Cup Group C, only if we do the right things, and that also includes the government playing its part.

We should thank Rwanda for beating South Africa for us and hope that they will do the same to the Super Eagles but we should also not forget that our World Cup destination lies in our own performance and in our own results.

Yes, we lost four points in the matches. We could easily have won against Rwanda and Nigeria but this is not the time to look at what could have been but to look forward to the future with some form of belief.

What is clear is that home advantage will play a crucial role in determining who qualifiers for World Cup 2026, and now is the time for the authorities to take the National Sports Stadium issue seriously.

The World Cup Qualifiers are still in their infancy and we still have Benin, Rwanda, Lesotho, and South Africa to visit us and we need to use our own stadium in front of our own fans to take all the 12 points on offer in those home matches.

Although there are about seven months before our next World Cup Qualifiers,  Zimbabwe should give itself a timeline to complete renovations at the National Sports Stadium to at least three or so months before our next home game.

The major talking point with the National Sports Stadium has always been the issue of bucket seats and we could have suggested that Zimbabwe has companies capable of manufacturing these seats but then came the realization of what always happens when locals are entrusted with such responsibilities.

Corruption always digs in and jobs are not completed when payment has already been made and in some cases quality is compromised because the money for the project would have been used for something else rather than the intended target.

So, the solution remains the importation of those seats which does not appear all that expensive for a whole country considering that a small team like Sheasham managed to import some for installation at Bata Stadium.

What we want to see is the government fulfilling the promises it has made over and over again through sports minister Kirsty Coventry over the upgrade of the National Stadium and that upgrade should commence right now rather than later.

We hope that when June 2024 comes, the Warriors of Zimbabwe will be back at the National Sports Stadium and waiting to teach South African coach Hugo Broos one or two lessons after the insults he hurled on Zimbabwe — that is if he was not talking the truth.

What we also want to see between now and June is the Zifa normalisation committee organizing serious friendly matches against the likes of African football heavyweights such as Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, instead of the likes of Botswana and Eswatini.

Surely, the Warriors will not benefit anything from the likes of the Zebras or even Malawi but countries like Egypt and Algeria take these friendly matches seriously for the sake of their world rankings.

The normalisation committee should also ensure that money for winning bonuses and allowances is available to avoid the player upheavals that Zimbabwe has always been known for.

They also need to make a decision on whether Baltermar Brito should continue as national team coach now that his contract with Highlanders is coming to an end.

Although there are critics who believe that Brito is not the right man for the job, we are also of the opinion that Genesis Mangombe and Bongani Mafu are not the best to steer the Warriors ship, neither is any of the local coaches.

It is not in question that Zimbabwe has very good and highly qualified coaches in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, but will they get the respect of our players most of whom play for recognized clubs in Europe and earn a substantial amount?

Although some might not agree, the World Cup tournament we are in demands a foreign coach who only needs to get his team selection spot on for the Warriors to get into gear.

Fine, Brito might have exhibited some weaknesses but those were his first two games and his first meeting with the players most of whom he is now familiar with although we are not saying he should continue.

Our opinion is that bringing in a new coach would mean starting all over again and destabilizing what has so far been built and we believe that continuation with the existing set up is the key.

While we are not the best to make player selection we repeat it once again that the normalisation committee should persuade Knowledge Musona (pictured) to return to the fold and lead the Warriors once again.

Our strike force is so blunt with what we have that Musona remains the trump card as we head towards what is probably the toughest period of these World Cup qualifiers.

Opinion remains divided whether Musona should return but the majority of football followers are in agreement that the Smiling Assassin is the missing peg in the Zimbabwean outfit.

Comparisons have been drawn between Musona and Peter Ndlovu and the fact that Musona’s performance is being compared to that of Nsukuzonke clearly shows that the former Anderlecht striker’s contribution is being acknowledged.

June is not far away and we need to move with speed in everything we are doing to ensure that we win this group that also includes Benin and Lesotho.

For the fist time, our World Cup qualification looks brighter than never before, and only ourselves can make this dream a reality, first by making the National Sports Stadium our home again.

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