Step aside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Liverpool. Here comes the World Cup.
That is the story as the streets of Zimbabwe are a sea of yellow, green, red, white, orange as Zimbabweans from all walks of life have hanged in their wardrobes the replica jerseys of their favourite clubs to put on those of the teams they are banking on to win the World Cup.
Even barmen, barwomen, waiters, and waitresses in most clubs have benefitted heavily from the World Cup as sports club owners have purchased replica jerseys for their workers not one, or two, but many as they brace for the one month football festival.
Even shop owners will be the first to admit that business has been brisk with customers searching for replica jerseys for different national teams, though, Brazil has been the most sought after.
Football follower Andrew Rwodzi thinks Brazil will get a record fifth title.
Another football fan, Tendayi Muchena, also thinks the same.
Many football fans believe that African teams will go far this year. He thinks the best they can do is probably a second round outing.
At the same time, Zimbabwean football fans have not surrendered their love for Zimbabwean football. Highlanders are still pegged at the top of the premiership table on 20 points, one ahead of bitter rivals Dynamos, who have similar points like second-placed, Hwange.
This followed Highlanders’ 1-1 draw against FC Platinum on the same day Dynamos beat Triangle by a single goal. Simba Sithole missed too many glorious opportunities for the popular Harare side but assistant coach Tichaona Diya defended the former Supersport and Mamelodi Sundowns striker.
It was another bad weekend for Zimbabwean football as the Mighty Warriors were knocked out of the African Women’s Championships after losing 1-0 to Zambia’s women soccer team to bow out on a 2-0 aggregate loss.
The Mighty Warriors’ elimination comes hard on the heels of the Warriors defeat at the hands of Tanzania, forcing a rethink on Zimbabwean football.
In terms of the World Cup, it is four years since there was such a scene in South Africa which culminated in Spain beating the Netherlands after all the African teams had been eliminated with the best being Ghana’s penalty shootout loss to Uruguay in the quarter finals.
At that time, not many knew about this Luis Suarez until he blocked Ghana’s goal-bound shot with his hands. Since then, some of those who cursed him now see him as a darling in their favourite Liverpool jersey.
Few, though, are banking on Uruguay going far in the tournament.
“Uruguay will not go anywhere. They will be lucky to reach the quarter finals,” says Stephen Mukoki, a supporter of struggling Castle Lager Premier Soccer League club, Harare City.
A survey, though, revealed that a high number of people are fancying the home team Brazil. This is not surprising as Brazil are considered the top footballing nation in the world and have gone into every World Cup as favourites. This time, though, they have the advantage of playing at home.
“There is no doubt, Brazil will take it. Not on the basis that they are playing at home. But in terms of the quality of players, they are way above all the other countries,’ said former Black Rhinos coach Nesbert Saruchera who now handles first division club Flame Lilly.
ZPC Kariba team manager Partson Ndabambi also agreed that Brazil will win the tournament. “They might be going into the tournament without having played too many games as as hosts they did not play in the qualifiers. But the games running into the tournament have shown that they are in top gear,” said Ndabambi.
There are some, though, who believe Spain will retain while others are banking Germany and some Argentina. “This is the time for Lionel Messi to prove that he is the best in the world and I am sure he is going to do just that,” said former Dynamos defender Henry Chari.
Although fans wanted to be as patriotic in terms of the chances of the five African teams, they were in agreement that the best they can do is a quarter final place with most of them tipping Nigeria as the team which can probably go that far.
This is just a guessing game but on 12 July, the real World Cup winner will known.
But in the meantime, let the games begin.