#BhoraLethu with Alois Bunjira
So, I have often heard some Zimbabwean voices saying that the South African league destroys our players and the league is inferior to Zimbabwe’s except for the money and marketing.
That got me thinking.
South Africa has won the AFCON once. They were losing finalists once at AFCON.
They have been semi finalists twice at AFCON. Sundowns have been CAF Champions league finalists 3 times and won the trophy once.
They are one of the super powers of African football.
Orlando Pirates have been finalists twice, won it once and have recently been in the final of the CAF Cup.Kaizer Chiefs have won the CAF Cup winners Cup once and been in the final recently.
Our clubs have never won anything in Africa save for that one time when Dynamos lost in the final.
Monomotapa and CAPS have been in the CAF CL group stage once,with FC Platinum being there twice,but they all never progressed to the knockout stage.
Otherwise mostly, it will exit in the first or second round. South Africa have won the COSAFA Cup an equal number of times as us.
South Africa has been to the World Cup twice.We have never been.
Our national football team has only been to AFCON five times and exited in the first round on all occasions, while SA are former winners,losing finalists ,third placed, fourth placed and quarter finalists.
Their Under 17 team has been to the World Cup and Africa Youth Championships many times but we have never been to the world cup and only have been to the Africa Youth Championships once.
Their Under 20s have been to the World Cup over three times and we have never been there.
Their Under 23s have been to the Olympics three times but Zimbabwe has never been there.
South Africa has more players in Europe than Zimbabwe .They have had many players in the English Premier League while Zimbabwe has only had four plus Bruce Grobellar.
South Africa have had players in Laliga, Bundesliga, Serie A while we have had none.
Their players have played in League 1 for top clubs while we have had only three at top clubs. They have had players in the Dutch league playing for the best clubs there while we have had only one .They have players all over Europe,albeit some in the lower leagues.
Thanks to the Diaspora community, we now have more players in the United Kingdom.The South African league is one of the best leagues in Africa ,according to FIFA/CAF rankings.
So where is the logic that South Africa haina dhiri?
Over the years we have had players enjoying and developing well in South Africa where there are better facilities.
The likes of Wilfred and William Mugeyi, John Mbidzo, Innocent Chikoya, Eddie Dinha, the late Francis Shonhai, Tauya Murehwa, Kaitano Tembo, Esrom Nyandoro, Alois Bunjira, Charles Yohane (late), Elasto Lungu, Esrom Nyandoro, Tinashe Nengomasha, Benjani, Rabson Muchichwa, Morgan Nkhatazo, among many others, all went to South Africa and played there for many years,coming to Zimbabwe and playing for the national team as better players.
These players actually went all the way to retirement.We have had players like Knowledge Musona, Nyasha Mushekwi, Gilbert Mushangazhike, Benjani, Mugeyi, Kennedy Nagoli, among others actually moving to greener pastures from the South African League.
Tendai Ndoro became a much better player when he left Zimbabwe for South Africa.
Tinashe Nengomasha and Nyandoro could have easily moved to Europe if it was not for the amounts charged by their clubs.
How then can one talk of Zimbabwean players getting killed in SA? Because Rodrick Mutuma, Gwekwerere and Denver Mukamba and a few current players couldn’t last?
Who exactly had a career destroyed in South Africa?
Some of Southern African countries’ best players go to South Africa? The best of Zimbabweans,Zambians,Malawians,Batswanas, Lesotho, Swaziland,Mozambique etc all go to South Africa.
Over the years I have seen players coming from Europe and South America to play in South Africa.
Some South African top players even refuse to go to Europe.
Some have gone and come back because of better money and facilities in South Africa.
How does a country with better facilities and money., which exports more players to Europe than us,with some of the best players in Southern Africa,be destroying our players?
Where is the logic?
Could we say a child learning at Epworth High School gets destroyed if he moves to Peter House where there are better facilities and resources?
Do we blame the school if such a child fails at Peter House or we may want to believe that the child stopped studying when he arrived at Peter House?
A classic case of us saying that a child who fails form 4 at Zengeza High School is a better student than a child who passed form 4 with as at Peterhouse saying he only failed because of no books at Zengeza, when another child from an equally disadvantaged Highfield High School did better than the one at PeterHouse. Logic?
How do we say a country with better facilities and money, with a league better marketed than any in Africa, is not good for our players? Isn’t that misplaced pride?
Now we even have our good players flocking to Zambia and Mozambique.
We need to look at ourselves, identify our problems and work on them, instead of blaming our wealthier neighbour for our troubles back home.
Are we doing things, right? What have we been doing for our football development?
Can someone name five hot Under 20 players in the country?
Can someone name our Under 17 national coach? Who is our National Under 17 captain?
What is the name of our Junior league?
Give me the names of the head coach of Dynamos Junior structures and their best player last season.
Give me the name of the head coach at CAPS United development structures.
Give me the name of any junior knockout tournament in the country?
I could go with my questions. I don’t have an answer to all those questions but I can give you the answers if you ask me the very same questions about South Africa’s top clubs.
If we don’t have answers to those questions ,which should be a given in any footballing country, then we should STOP finger pointing at our neighbours and start working on ourselves.
If we see our top clubs with no junior structures, then we know we have a doomed future.
And this has been going on for some time. Harare City, Bantu Rovers ,FC Platinum and Highlanders are the only top clubs doing their bit as far as development of players is concerned.
A few academies like PE Academy are doing their bit.We are killing our own players with lack of proper development. The few that are naturally talented go on and make it in South Africa and develop.
These are the ones who come back and form the core of our national team.
South Africa has actually done its bit in helping develop our players with their facilities and money.
What we should do is to encourage those that are in South Africa to then aim higher and move to more competitive leagues in Europe.
Last but not least, the Zimbabwe Football Association in association with the Premier Soccer League, should implement the FIFA/CAF licensing requirements.
That is the first step in changing the face of football in this country.
The mess is right by their doorsteps and they need to do something to clean it up instead of letting the mess pile up in the name of leniency and hiding behind the economy.
So they care?
Those clubs that cannot manage to align themselves with the FIFA/CAF licensing requirements should be relegated or expelled, and let the few that can, go on.
It is better to have 10 or 12 competent and well-structured clubs than to have 18 or 20 struggling teams with no structures ,providing a mediocre product on the field of play.
The problem in our football is right by our doorsteps.
We need to do the right things, have the right structures, which in turn convince the corporates and authorities that we are serious.
That way, we will see our football wheels moving in the right direction.
My condolences to the Mushunje family on the passing on of former Dynamos, Ngezi Platinum and FC Platinum footballer, Barnabas Mushunje, who passed away on Tuesday this week after an accident on his way to Shamva
What a loss to the football community. A young man with a promising career taken away so soon. May his dear doul rest in peace.