ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube is the FIRST leader of the association to oversee THREE failed bids by the Warriors to qualify for the Nations Cup finals since Zimbabwe finally earned its membership of Africa’s biggest football festival in Tunisia in 2004.
He is the ONLY leader of ZIFA, in the past decade since the Warriors came of age by dancing with the game’s heavyweights, who hasn’t been rewarded with even the consolation prize of a Cosafa Cup silverware.Vincent Pamire, who was the ZIFA boss when the Warriors ended 23-years of waiting by booking their place at their first Nations Cup finals in 2004 in Tunisia, despite the turbulence of persistent boardroom upheaval where his hold on the throne was repeatedly challenged, including in the High Court, topped it all by delivering a Cosafa Cup triumph in 2003.Rafik Khan, who took over the baton from Pamire and was the boss when the Warriors qualified for the 2006 Nations Cup finals, capped it up by also bringing the Cosafa Cup home in 2005 when the national team triumphed in South Africa in 2005.Wellington Nyatanga, who replaced Khan as ZIFA boss in 2006, might have failed to match the success stories of the 2004 and 2006 Nations Cup finals qualifying battles, with the Warriors failing in their bids for the 2008 and 2010 Afcon finals but, at least, he managed the consolation of delivering a Cosafa Cup triumph in 2009.
Statistics will show that Dube isn’t the worst ZIFA boss, since the Warriors earned their Nations Cup finals stripes, as he has a better percentage, in that club of failures, given that his report card of 41.66 percent, when it comes to African’s premier football tournament, is better than Nyatanga’s 33.33 percent scorecard.But Nyatanga would probably argue, with justification, that if he had been given the chance to oversee three Nations Cup finals, he could possibly have improved his record.Dube, though, has no competition when it comes to the World Cup qualifiers as the Warriors’ return of 11.11 percent, in their quest to qualify for Brazil, represents their worst show in the bid to make it to the biggest football festival on the globe for the first time.The Warriors failed to win even a single game, in their six 2014 World Cup qualifiers, losing twice at home, picking only two, out of a possible 18 points, in a nightmarish campaign that was a true reflection of the erosion of their brand under Dube’s watch.
But it has always been the Nations Cup finals, where the Warriors have had a realistic chance of making it among the finalists, having done so twice in Tunisia in 2004 and Egypt in 2006, and Dube promised that he would deliver the team to such festivals like the one being held in Equatorial Guinea.In the countdown to the 2010 ZIFA elections, when Dube put himself as a candidate for the top job in the association, having served as a board member and regional leader in the past, he put qualification for the Nations Cup finals as not only a priority but something that would be delivered, without fail, by his leadership.In his manifesto for the 2010 ZIFA presidential elections, Dube asks the association’s councillors why they should vote for him and, with the Warriors having missed the 2008 and 2010 Nations Cup finals, he provided an emphatic answer.“I am a visionary. ZIFA will not be the same again under my leadership,” Dube screamed in his manifesto.
ZIFA will regain its lost pride and ZIMBABWE’s WORLD RANKING WILL BE AMONG THE FIRST FIFTY (50).”Of course, Dube won but delivering the promises was another thing altogether.The Warriors did not only spend most of the time outside the top 100 but they endured a nightmarish World Cup campaign, during which they were humbled twice at home and lost four of their six games, managing only to pick points in two draws against Mozambique.They also failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2013 Nations Cup finals even when getting a place at the later festival, in South Africa, required them to beat just two countries — Burundi and Angola — as easy a path to this showcase as they will ever get.But their failure did not deter Dube and he campaigned, and won, the battle for the ZIFA presidency in March last year, being handed another four-year term by a football family that believed, once again, in his glossy manifesto which, among other things, promised the delivery of a ticket to the Nations Cup finals.Dube even said, in his manifesto, that qualifying for the 2015 Nations Cup finals would be his board’s “sole” focus.“During our term of office, the National Teams did not qualify for the World Cup and African Cup of Nations,” Dube said in his manifesto.
“We failed to fulfill some regional and continental matches because of lack of funding from the Government of National Unity. Throughout the life of the Government of National Unity (GNU), our Board failed to persuade that Government to support soccer and our national teams.“Our Board failed to pay National Team Coaches and the same have taken ZIFA to court. The past campaigns (Afcon 2015), our nation failed to qualify on the last decisive matches, first in Mali (Cape Verde) and second in Angola. When all had been fought for bravely during both campaigns, we failed as a nation to clear the last hurdle.“Memories of both campaigns still haunt me to this day. I PLEDGE TO LEAD A TEAM OF DEDICATED MEN AND WOMEN WHOSE SOLE FOCUS WILL BE TO LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED IN OUR QUEST FOR AFCON 2015.”Of course, that qualification, even though it would be the “sole” focus of Dube and his new ZIFA board, was not delivered.