If anything, the sporting year will go down the annals of the success-starved nation as one of the most eventful if not controversial years.
Â The biggest prize for mediocrity without doubt goes to the beloved Warriors, the senior men’s national team, which while 16 of the best nations in the sport in the continent make final preparations for the African Nations Cup in Ghana, will be kicking their heels at home after failing to qualify for the event.
Â Losing is part of the game but losing to such flyweight opponents as Malawi is simply unacceptable.
Â The imagination of star players Peter Ndlovu and Benjani Mwaruwari brawling over petty issues on the eve of the clash against Morocco further adds a notorious twist to the disappointing exit to the tournament the Warriors had made a habit of qualifying for.
Â Nonetheless, to expect Zimbabwe to pull through in a group that teemed with stubborn opposition in the form of Lesotho would be overzealous and asking a bit too much from Charles Mhlauri, who was fired -dreadlocks and all- from his coaching position after the embarrassment.
The boys’ atrocious outing in the regional COSAFA Castle Cup was equally disastrous and not short of incompetence either as Zimbabwe, joint record winners of the tournament, fell at the last hurdle at the hands of, of all teams, Mozambique.
The catastrophe rubbed off on Zimbabwean representatives in the continental safari, Highlanders and Mwana Africa, who promised so much but returned from the expedition with nothing but experience as they fell to formidable North and West African opposition.
While the tragedy was seemingly coming to a close, the controversial entrepreneur-cum ZIFA chief executive officer-now alleged crook stole the limelight for the wrong reason.
Â She is in the spotlight for allegedly swindling the erring football mother body of significant amounts in foreign currency. The disappearance of funds from ZIFA coffers is nothing new anyway and thus caught no one by surprise in 2007.
Also worth mentioning is Black Rhinos and Hwange’s dangerous Coventry City or Southampton-style flirt with relegation ended with the inevitable as like their English counterparts, they were relegated from the elite league to the dog-eat-dog world of the first division, together with Mwana Africa. Â
Â But every cloud has a silver lining. It took the Under 20 version of the Warriors to show their senior counterparts how it is supposed to be done and what patriotism is all about when Knowledge Musona’s legendary second half hattrick recently steered Methembe Ndlovu’s inimitable team to victory at the just ended COSAFA Youth Championships.
Â The unstoppable juniors won the tourney without conceding a goal while on the other end bulged the net a marvelous 14 times in four matches.
Dynamos, allegedly the biggest such club in Zimbabwe, finally walk from their ten year slumber to notch its first league title since the onset of the current millennium.
Â The Blues made up for the misery they had put their fans in over the years by claiming a double with the League Cup, made sweeter by the fact that they beat sworn-rivals Highlanders to both the League and Cup.
Â Murape Murape and David Mandigora put the cherry on top of a memorable season after they scooped the Player and Coach of the Year respectively.
National team captain is also shining in the blue and white, but that of Portsmouth in England bringing smiles to a nation starved not only of basic commodities but of football exports of note in recent years.
Â Things were not different in cricket either, which experienced mixed fortunes, a large chunk however being misfortune. The disappointing team, not short of controversy, incompetence and a series of legendary losses since the core of the team quit, continued their woeful run of form which saw accrue loss after loss as if losing a cricket match were fashionable.
Â The team was always going to be the 2007 World Cup and it was therefore not surprising when they bombed out in the first round. The young squad however, inspired by Brendan Taylor, redeemed itself when they beat the talented but sometimes overrated world champions Australia by five wickets in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup, but that was all they could manage as they were sent tumbling out of the tournament at the group stages.
Â Things however looked up in individual sporting codes. Swimming and tennis queens, Kirsty Coventry and Cara Black respectively redeemed pride for Zimbabwe with world class performances which maintained their status as world beaters.
Â The loveable Coventry was simply unbeatable if not legendary with her awesome medal haul in international competitions. Her irresistible form in the pool saw her reap a total of 12 medals- seven gold and five silver- at the All Africa Games and World Swimming Championships in Algeria and Australia respectively, enhancing her status as Zimbabwe’s golden girl.
Not to be outdone Black, the female sibling in the renowned tennis family, had amazing feats of her own. Together with South African doubles partner, Liezel Huber, they came together successfully, winning the 2007 Australian Open and triumphing at Wimbledon.
Â The inimitable pair held their own in the ranking subsequently ending the year as the number one doubles team after winning the year-end championships over Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama 5-7, 6-3 (10-8).
Â Accordingly, as the year draws to an end, the wish on every Zimbabwean’s lip is that 2008 has better prospects to offer in mainstream sports, and, the sport-loving country’s comatose economy wakes up from its seemingly irrevocable slumber-CAJ News. Â
Warriors to focus on 2010 now
WARRIORS performing terribly in continental competitions, ever-bungling football administrators getting arrested, Kirsty Coventry's medal haul and Cara Black performing wonders in the tennis court- all that is a tip of the sporting year 2007 was for Zimbabwe.