I know it is not easy carrying the hopes of an entire nation, less so when that nation is Zimbabwe, whose citizens are always complaining about one thing or the other.
Yesterday is a day best forgotten for you and millions of Zimbabweans. It was a terrible day, a disastrous end to a fairy tale that lasted one game.
When you got the position of head coach I, and other like minded Zimbabweans, reserved our comments. I would not be lying if I say I hoped you well.
It is a difficult job, a difficult team, with difficult fans in a difficult country but when you got the job everyone agreed it would not be too difficult to succeed. Against a background of match-fixing, losing to Cape Verde and failing to qualify for the AFCON since 2006 all you needed to do was win a few matches.
And boy, didn’t you surprise? We beat the Angolans 3-1 in Harare and everyone thought we now had our very own Special One, without the pompousness of course.
For the first time in many years we had a realistic chance of qualifying for a major tournament. That last happened six years ago when we played in Egypt, where, despite failing to reach the second round, we played well and recorded a win against a Black Stars side that later represented the continent during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
I know you- and the guys you picked in your starting eleven yesterday- watched those three matches with the same pride and excitement that I felt. Some of them actually played in the games. You will, no doubt, recall the exhilaration we all felt when we beat Ghana.
I was not so fortunate, ZESA decided, as it so often does, that our school did not deserve electricity that night. Still, with the sedulousness fanned by our love for the beautiful game, we crowded in a dorm room at Gokomere High School where a resourceful comrade produced a small radio. We followed the game with the zeal and faith expected in patriotic citizens. That night our souls journeyed to Egypt.
But I digress, hope you forgive the nostalgic wanderings of a perennially disappointed fan.
Dear Rahman- and all brave warriors who represented us yesterday- yesterday we thought our time had come. We journeyed to Luanda with rare optimism and confidence. All we needed to do was score one and make sure the Angolans scored less than three, or we could lose one nil, or better still, we could simply draw. No one really wanted a win.
But you Cde Rahman -and your charges- decided to dash the dreams of millions of people. Of interest were several tactful decisions which we found ridiculous.
More shocking was the squad list itself. Perhaps Cde Rahman, when you respond to this letter, you will explain to me why my homeboy, former schoolmate, and without doubt our most talented footballer Ovidy Karuru was not part of the team. A travesty!
Or why you decided to have Esrom as defender? And the inclusion of players who are clearly over the hill?
As you know Cde Rahman, and as your charges know, we were torn apart and conceded two goals in two minutes. We could have conceded more and only God knows why we didn’t. Our defence and midfield were terrible.
Despite the promises of riches beyond ordinary citizens like me, our Warriors failed to rise to the occasion. As one of my Facebook friends cheekily remarked, “There are no warriors to be seen in the pitch.” Indeed, there were no Warriors, when it mattered they mysteriously transformed into maidens.
Speaking of Facebook Cde Rahman, perhaps I should let you know the things people were saying as the game progressed.
One pious woman suggested that we should convert all stadiums into churches.There was no shortage of piety, a number of people implored the prophets, the ancestors, God and all sorts of supernatural beings to come to our rescue. Names like Makandiwa, Angels, Mai Gunguwo and a few other religious leaders featured a lot.
Mukoma Magaisa jokingly reported that there would be a rematch, though I don’t think you would be the coach if such an arrangement ever happened. Being a Zimbabwean he is used to reruns.
The more practical ones suggested that we should adopt the West African way, a little jail and disciplinary action would do the national team a lot of good, they claimed.
I do not agree with them Cde Rahman, I do not wish you an untimely demise. What I want are a few answers.
Let me say that ever since the Asiagate fiasco match fixing cannot be ruled out, so I wondered if the warriors were actually ‘winning’’ yesterday.
But thank you Rahman, you restored our national pride and gave us hope, albeit even for such a short time. You united a nation and made it rally behind the team for the first time in recent memory.
You sparked several lively debates on the state of our football and ZIFA. After all, how did we expect to win when the administrators at ZIFA are regularly accused of corruption, fraud and rigging elections?
People are today arguing about what is to be done with all the money and residential stands the team had been promised. Perhaps you can help out here.
Of course another raging debate is of more importance to you. That one deals with your future as or as not head coach.
You and your Warriors, you also confirmed what has been said so many times- that to support Zimbabwe is to invite stress.
Cde Rahman, my profound gratitude for inadvertently sparing us further grief and disappointments. The higher you go, the harder the fall as they say. Angola was playing poorly and I shudder to think what would happen against any decent side had we qualified for South Africa.
On top of that you also gave newspapers something new to write about.
“2013 Afcon: Heartbreak as Warriors crash out.” screamed Robson Sharuko and The Herald.
“ZIMBABWE plunged into mourning last night after the Warriors crashed, for the umpteenth time, at the final hurdle and blew away a golden chance to qualify for the 2013 Nations Cup finals in South Africa.”
Thus wrote the Senior Sports Editor of the Herald, Cde Sharuko.
Newsday was less particular, it’s headline “Warriors: same old story” says it all.
We were tired of Prime Minister Tsvangira’s wife and the women in his life. We were equally tired of the speculation over elections which has gone on for over two years now.
And Cde Rahman, you gave me a chance to write a letter, something I have not done in a very long while. There is something positive even in the bad as the Shona say, “Kushata kwezvimwe kunaka kwezvimwe” isn’t it?
Lastly I wish you every success in your next adventures, wherein you will be carrying the hopes of lots of people again. Must be a heavy burden that, carrying an entire people’s hopes, especially a capricious people like Zimbabweans.
I won’t be part of those people or adventures though Cde Gumbo, my time with the Warriors is up.
In the hope that this letter finds you well in these difficult times- ‘mourning times’ as Sharuko would have us believe.
I look forward to receiving your reply comrade.
The African Youth ( A very disappointed former fan of the Warriors)
P.S. There are some saying you should give the reins back to Mapeza. I don’t agree, there is a reason he lost the job in the first place. And, unlike you, he never played against a team with Manucho. His greatest achievement was losing to Cape Verde. Raise that point when they attempt, as they will no doubt do, to relieve you of your duties.