LEGENDARY Scottish pop music band Del Amitri penned a song dedicated to the Scotland national soccer team after they qualified for their first and only Fifa World Cup in France in 1998. The send-off song was titled Don’t Come Home Too Soon. Part of the lyrics say: “So long, go on and do your best, so go then out into history and show them how easy it can be. You might not believe it yet, but pretty soon you’ll see, even long shots make it. Just don’t come home too soon.”
Needless to say, the Scottish team failed to live up to the message in the song and were eliminated in the group stages.
We can aptly borrow the same lyrics and encourage our own Warriors not to come home too soon from the African Nations Championship (Chan) they are taking part in starting next week in Rwanda. The squad leaves Harare today and although no one seems to believe they can win the Chan, we say to the Warriors go and make us proud on and off the field.
Captain Hardlife Zvirekwi is bullish, saying there are reasons for optimism as he believes they have a bunch of players that can give a good account of themselves at the Chan. After all, Zvirekwi also believes this present squad is stronger now than it was at the last tournament in South Africa where they finished fourth two years ago.
He believes they are good enough to reach the final and lift the trophy with a bit of luck. This is good confidence from a captain who knows that a good tournament will hopefully stem some of the public’s indifference towards the national team. A bad one does not bear thinking about.
We hope the rest of the troops possess their captain’s optimism to enable fans to watch a Warriors’ outfit containing a lot more flair and pace that will hopefully blitz their opponents.
For once, the Warriors had a decent camp compared to previous ones that were always plagued by sit-ins and lock-outs due to non-payment. It was either the players weren’t paid their promised allowances or their accommodation was not paid.
National team camps were always a high source of national embarrassment, but the new Zifa administration has tried its best to make the preparations smooth in terms of the players’ welfare. What more can the players ask for? So far their allowances have been guaranteed and there is no reason to believe Zifa will renege on them considering that Zifa is beginning to clear some of its long outstanding debts.
Notwithstanding the lack of international friendlies ahead of the tournament, the Warriors actually have no excuse and we certainly expect them to qualify from their pool, which has our northern neighbours Zambia, Mali and Uganda.
It’s a tough group, especially considering that only two teams per group go through to the next stage, but we will not sympathise with an early exit because the Warriors earned the right to be at the tournament in the very same manner as their three group opponents and other teams at this year’s edition.
The challenge for coach Callisto Pasuwa is whether he can maintain or surpass the standards the Warriors set at the same event two years ago. We saw them dismissing relatively weaker opponents in the qualifiers last year, but can they maintain or up the standards when the opposition is tougher?
Unfortunately, the reality with the Warriors is usually far from however good they may look on paper. We want our Warriors to win the Chan, but until it happens, it will always be an unrealistic dream. But for now, please don’t come home too soon.