HARARE – A top-ranking Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) official has accepted blame for the national side’s failure to qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup finals in South Africa, but has vowed to stay in office despite the barrage of criticism.
Zifa has drawn flak for the Warriors’ 2-0 loss to Angola in Luanda at the weekend, a result which saw the Pancras Negras overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit to seal passage to the Afcon finals in South Africa early next year.
However, Benedict Moyo, a senior board member in charge of competitions, said Zifa should not shoulder the blame alone.
“At this moment everyone will take us to the cleaners for the dismissal performance, and we accept responsibility,” Moyo told the Daily News yesterday. “You should understand that we were not totally responsible. We inherited a Zifa than had no development plan. All nations which have done well have five-year-plans. When we took over, Zifa didn’t have a development plan. We appreciate our sponsors, Mbada Diamonds and Mzansi 90, they should have come in a long time back or when there was a development plan.
“In Angola, we went there without a plan. We didn’t have an advance party because we had no resources. If the technical team was given information about the mood in Angola beforehand, they should have changed their game plan. We only realised the mood on the field of play.”
Asked how Zifa could not have possibly anticipated the mood in Angola, given that the Pancras Negras, like Zimbabwe, also desperately wanted to qualify, Moyo responded:
“Yes, we anticipated that. But not the actual mood. There is a difference. We needed information on the existing environment before the game, referees etc. We went there with information based on the last game. They thought we would hit them early. But we didn’t. We are not trying to run away, but like the debts we inherited, we are suffering from development plan problem we inherited. But that’s life. People should not crucify us. People should not look elsewhere. It is this Asiagate (match-fixing) animal.”
Moyo also put down the catastrophic result to mental strength.
“Psychologically we failed to contain these guys in the first 20 minutes,” he said. “Unfortunately, our players failed. We didn’t have much ammunition. The defenders knew Manucho was dangerous, why did we give him space? We gave him so much space. Two free headers! Two goals in six minutes, that’s unheard of.”
Warriors coach Rahman Gumbo has also come under heavy pressure to keep his job after failing to protect the 3-1 lead in Luanda, but from Moyo’s tone, it does not appear the former FC Platinum gaffer will come under Zifa scrutiny following his monumental failure.
“Look, we have to look at all factors,” Moyo said. “We are now awaiting the report from the technical staff. We are going to review the report, not just the coach, but a host of other things. In the next two weeks we will have a position. We don’t want to be emotional because everyone is emotional. We have been changing coaches in the last two years; Norman (Mapeza), (Tom) Saintfiet, Madinda (Ndlovu) now Rahman. All in two years! It kills stability.”