By Eddie Chikamhi
FC PLATINUM’S woes in front of goal in this year’s Champions League campaign could just be a reflection of a deepening scarcity of sure-footed strikers in the country.
The Zvishavane miners have fired blanks in over 270 minutes of Champions League group stage football.
And, as they leave for Guinea today to play Horoya AC in the reverse leg scheduled for Tuesday in Conakry, Norman Mapeza’s men will be praying to break the duck.
Their impotence is not surprising given that players have generally struggled to score goals on the domestic front.
No one has been able to breach the 20-goal mark set by Norman Maroto in 2010. ZIFA technical director Wilson Mtekede, who is also an accredited CAF coaches’ instructor, points to a number of factors.
“It’s a tricky situation in that there are a host of factors that could be contributing to that. In the yesteryear, players could easily bang in more goals in a season, but the system of play has changed,” he says.
“The traditional number nine, who is an out-and-out striker, is no longer being used these days. But again, that kind of striker, with the natural instinct to kill off a game at any given moment, does not come cheap. There is a genuine shortage from the conveyor belt, which is the junior development. In the heyday, there used to be the likes of Moses Chunga, Gift Mpariwa, Maronga Nyangela, Shackman Tauro and many others. But that crop of self-driven players, who would put in extra training, was different from the succeeding generations.
“This then calls for modern coaching trends where we have departmental coaches who focus on different aspects of the team to augment the head coach.
“Just as there is specialised coaches for the goalkeepers, there also has to be trainers for strikers, defenders and midfielders in our technical teams. Overall, I believe Zimbabwe has a lot of talent. It’s very unfortunate that we don’t have the financial muscle to retain our key talent.
“We constantly lose some of our best talents to more lucrative leagues.”
Dynamos coach Lloyd Chigowe, who has a passion for junior development, also feels the current generation of players were letting the nation down. “Right now, the rate of our returns in terms of goals in the country is not very good. We have a drought, so to speak,” he said.
“Look at FC Platinum, they have played three Champions League matches, but they have not scored even a single goal, yet they are the top team in the country today. I think this generation of players has not been delivering to expectations. If you look at the time when we had the likes of Gift Mpariwa, Shackman Tauro, Vitalis Takawira and Agent Sawu, it was brilliant. When junior football was disbanded, it affected the production line big time.
“Without proper junior football structures, we are denying ourselves opportunities for strikers to emerge. That is why we have recommended all five slots to go to juniors at Dynamos this season to ensure that there is a constant supply of youngsters who can come and get exposure at the highest level.”