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2013 Bad Year for Zimbabwe Sport

The year 2013 has been a tough year for Zimbabwean sport with most of the country’s sportspersons failing to make a mark on the international front.

Apart from the Warriors’ qualification for the less important Africa Nations Championships, there was nothing to cheer about for Zimbabwean sport as the country suffered humiliation in most sporting disciplines ranging from cricket, to rugby, tennis and other sports.

Although boxer Charles Manyuchi gave Zimbabweans something to smile about after winning the Africa Boxing Union welterweight title, the Sables surrendered their Africa title after losing to Uganda in Madagascar while the Zimbabwe cricket team was whitewashed 5-0 by India in Tests and One Day International Series at the turn of the year.

As if this was not enough, the Davis Cup team also failed in its endeavor for promotion to the Africa Zone Group Two after falling by the wayside at the Africa Zone Group Three qualifiers held in Egypt.

That is not all. Even Dynamos, once southern Africa’s flag bearers in Pan-African football, failed for the second year running to reach the mini-league stage of the CAF Champions League after losing in the first round to Club Birzetin of Tunisia.

Although the Zimbabwe Under-19 volleyball teams qualified for the World Championships in Poland but came back home empty handed after losing all the matches they played.

The Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Andrew Langa, admitted at the Annual National Sports Awards that they were honouring mediocrity as most of the Zimbabwean sportspersons had failed to live up to their billing.

However, the sports family was quick to respond saying the reasons for Zimbabwe’s poor showing international competitions was due to lack of financial support from the government itself.

But as Zimbabweans reflect on what has been a bad year gone by, it also important that they also look forward to the future with renewed vigour and optimism.

The Cricket World Cup is coming. Zimbabwe has been drawn in the same group with South Africa, India, Pakistan, the West Indies and Ireland in the finals to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand in February.

Captain Brendan Taylor says they are looking forward for an improved and better show at the global cricket festival.

Dynamos too are also back in the CAF Champions League. This time they are facing Mochudi Centre Chiefs of Botswana in the preliminary round with the chance of facing Kaiser Chiefs of South Africa should they reach the second round.

Coach Kalisto Pasuwa, however, is not looking at Kaiser Chiefs but wants to clear the Botswana hurdle first. He is not underestimating the small Batswana club and says every game is as important as it comes.

Also representing Zimbabwe but in the CAF Confederation Cup will be How Mine. But coach Philani Ncube is not promising to perform any miracles. The coach is reiterating the same language heard before from other coaches that they are in Africa to learn.

At the same time, the national rugby team which last appeared at the World Cup in 1991, will in April get another chance for a return to the global stage when they take on Madagascar, Uganda, Kenya, and Namibia for that vital slot reserved for Africa.

The top team from this group will automatically qualify for the finals to be held in England in 2015 while the second top team will get another chance when they engage themselves in play offs against teams from Europe and the Oceania.

Africa Boxing Union title holder Charles Manyuchi gets the chance for a world title when he takes on Ghana’s Patrick Kalote at the Government Complex in Lusaka, Zambia, on January 25.

But before the other teams take to the field, the Warriors will be at the African Nations Championships which will run in South Africa from January 11 to February 1.

The Warriors are in the same group with Morocco, Uganda and Burkina Faso. The top two teams from the group qualify for the quarter finals.

The Warriors have not gone beyond the first round since the African Nations Championships were introduced in 2009 but assistant team manager Patrick Muitesva says this is a new tournament altogether adding that the Warriors are ready to rock and roll.

Yes, the year 2013 is gone, and what a bad year it was for Zimbabwean sport. The focus now should be on the year 2014 hoping that it will bring celebration to sports lovers.