Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Acting Sports Editor
EVERY football player dreams of representing his national team during the course of his playing career.
It is the ultimate “call” when one is invited to join the squad and gets to don the national team jersey for it comes with pride, regardless of the final result.
It’s not everyone who can be called up to the national team but those who have exceptional qualities and those enjoying fine form at the time the national team is called up and hence there is and must be no God-given position in the national squad. Sadly, in Zimbabwe it seems form is not a factor for a player to be called into the Warriors squad.
Last week veteran Warriors’ coach Sunday Chidzambwa called up a 28-member squad to prepare for the Total African Nations Cup qualifier against Congo Brazzaville next month and some names that were expected to be part of that squad were not called.
“You will never pick a squad that pleases all, it’s common all over the world.
“I am a human being whose view might differ from others, so naturally I cannot please everyone. That’s how life goes.
“I believe we have done our best as the technical team to call in the players we think can do the best job in Congo. There are a lot of factors that are looked at when selecting the national team,” Chidzambwa told our sister paper, The Sunday Mail yesterday. That is true but surely some of the missing names have made everyone talk. While it could be understood, by few, why he left out Golden Arrows’ Knox Mutizwa, its still shocking that in-form Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, a player who has kept 10 clean sheets, is not part of the selected 28.
Some still argue that Sibanda’s horror show in Luanda way back in 2012 when he was in goal for the Warriors against Angola that saw Manucho score two goals inside three minutes to boot Zimbabwe out of the 2013 African Nations Cup qualifier, could be the main reason why the 28-year-old Sibanda is not being considered. Suffice to say, only foolish minds think that way.
Sibanda has been in devastating form for Highlanders this season and has to date saved two penalties and made some match deciding saves for the Bulawayo giants.
If such heroic performances are not good enough for a player to at least be called into camp, then nothing is.
Chidzambwa instead called up Chapungu United’s Tallbert Shumba, a side that has conceded a massive 26 goals in 22 matches. Shumba, a Highlanders junior product, is a good keeper but statistics weigh heavily against him being called up.
Form not friendship, partisanship or anything should be the basis for players to be called into the national team and on that basis surely Sibanda ought to be preparing to join the rest of the players in preparation for the Congo encounter.
His clean sheets were against Herentals, Triangle, Dynamos, Nichrut, Mutare City, Yadah, Caps United, Bulawayo City, Triangle and Nichrut. He was red carded against Bulawayo Chiefs when it was still 0-0.
While it is true that he cannot please everyone, including us, the respected Chidzambwa needs to reward players who are performing well and the 28- year-old former Plumtree High School pupil deserves to be part of that group.