By Phillip Zulu
The recent invitations extended to the foreign based players in Europe, who have Zimbabwean roots is more than welcome and a great development for the football fraternity whose passion for the national team is very high.
Joey Antipas the current interim coach is like a second ‘Daniel’ who has come to judgement, our football direction and pedigree was crying out loudly for a brave and intelligent personality that takes the bull by the horns. For more than ten years we have been crying out loudly for such bold and decisive steps but, without much success and headway as coach after coach dithered, succumb to inertia and moments of madness when they ignored these young fledgling talents in top European leagues.
It is an understatement to say Zimbabwean football is a product of high failure as anyone can witness the world rankings of above 120 plus under Fifa global ratings, we have the undisputed talents to take us to positions below 35 in global rankings and this much anticipated invitation by Mafero brings an air of confidence and stability right from the onset, as we steadily drift into the dreamland of our aspirations in rebuilding the national teams. He who casts the first stone in the foundations, is a great builder of note and Joey Antipas has that tenacity and fortitude to help starting to re-organise the future templates of the national football teams as he directed his compass to the north. Joey Antipas has always been a good choice for genuine football development and progress since his days at Arcadia, Motor Action and currently, at Chicken Inn where he has brought a very good coaching and management style that has stabilised the ship. Mafero is one such coach that has got good qualities of discernment, introspection and pragmatism in junior football development programs right up to the senior levels of the game. Coaching young players is like engraving in stone, Mafero has this quality that he has silently unleashed on the unassuming doubting Thomases whom we have been clamouring and seeking to enlighten all these years back- that our football development needs a new module and author.
By inviting Martin Mapisa (Velez fC), Jordan Zenura (Bournemouth FC), Tivonge Rushesha (Swansea FC), Macaulay Bonne (Charlton FC), Cliff Moyo( Kidderminster Harriers FC), Douglas Nyaupembe (Stockport County) and Jonah Fabisch (SV Hamburg) for availability during the upcoming Afcon fixture against Botswana is too sweet news to contemplate as we salivate on the presence of all established stars like Nakamba, Kadewere, Mudimu, Khama Billiart, Munetsi and Hadebe.
Surely this is a new page, a new mindset, a Damascene moment of our football and indeed, a broad declaration of our future football journey. This is the minimum we have always asked for and as such, we look to the future with hope and confidence, we can robustly implement our pervasive strategic plans that tie in with this broad statement of intent. Since i have known Joey Antipas at Arcadia FC when i used to train with him, whilst turning out for the reserves, i always had great respect for his ethical approach towards the game as a player and later, as a gaffer. He is very fair, professional and hardworking in everything that he does for football, such rare qualities will make our national team far better and when i had the chance to second a candidate for this interim position: Mafero was my first choice and preferred candidate.
Our foreign players should come and complement the hardwork that Mafero has embarked on, they should bring even better qualities of top professionalism that are blameless, far better than the disaster we witnessed in Cairo when we timidly rolled and surrendered in Egypt during the recent Afcon finals. We need to banish the disaster in Djibouti, where Somalia reduced us to a laughing stock, we need to hit the ground running once everything is in order and prove to the world that we have the spine and vigor, we have the X Factor to change history and become the first generation of Zimbabwe to qualify for the Qatar World Cup 2022 qualifying team. We want to re-write history and claim our slot in African football as worthy winners of the Afcon as we prepare for the next tournament, we want to bring a new mindset that is indexed on the modern day football development programs that we have slowly entered into, in top European leagues and create an everlasting impression of how we rose from the dead. Hail Joey ‘Mafero’ Antipas our new judge, a second ‘Daniel’ has come indeed.