Exactly 15months and eight days ago, a national newspaper in Zimbabwe published an article with its headline “Zimbabwe national teams a disaster in the making” after the Zimbabwean national team lost 2-0 to Zambia in the women’s championship qualifier.
This sparked off a heated debate on how poor their football is and how other countries like Zambia were progressing in both the male and female football category.
NEWSFALSH: This is the first time that the Zimbabwean Women’s team have qualified for any major FIFA tournament either at the under age or senior level. In fact, they haven’t even qualified for the African Women’s Championship since 2004; having made just three appearances.
Thus, it is satisfying to see their unexpected yet blissful rise considering how they reached the Olympic finals.
They have been saddled with glaring issues ranging from travel funds, visa hitches to having no kits to play with; a situation ONLY when it comes to the Zimbabwean women’s team.
In the second round of qualifiers, Zimbabwe overcame the odds and travelled amidst the travel hitches and bonus row and despite losing at home to Zambia 2-1, it had to take a Felistas Muzongondi goal in Harare to give them an away victory.
De ja vu in the making? Well, read further….
In the next round, the draws weren’t favourable as they faced one of the new giants of Africa, Ivory Coast -who performed brilliantly at the AWC in Namibia finishing third and doing fair enough for debutants at the World Cup-.
However, the mighty Warriors as they are called could not honour the match as they couldn’t get the funds to travel for the first leg so Ivory Coast were awarded 3-0 by CAF and a BYE into the next round. But more drama ensued as the latter decision by Africa’s ruling body was overturned by FIFA and a date for the second leg was fixed.
Ivory Coast then failed to show up for the rescheduled second leg as they withdrew from the contest.
Against Cameroon in the final qualifying round, Zimbabwe showed much gusto as they opened the scoring in Yaoundé. Nonetheless, it had to take a brace via the individual brilliance of Cameroon forward, Ngono Mani to give the Lionesses a 2-1 victory at home.
Fast forward to the 18th of October and a brilliant first half goal gave Zimbabwe a 2-2 aggregate victory over Cameroon.
Remember I said de ja vu? Well…away rules are simply Zimbabwe’s forte!
Zimbabwe is ranked 107th in the world and 14th in Africa. But the African ranking does not tell the whole story.
Amidst the barrage of problems bedevilling the Zimbabwe Football Association it just goes to show that again, the women’s teams almost always brings recognition to a nation that seeks one.
This all feels like a Telenovela in the sense that you have to see it to believe it.
Well in Zimbabwean folklore, the Mighty Warriors have done both.