A pipeline approach should be embraced by any senior national team to make sure that there is a foundation of continuity at the top level over a prolonged period.
The recent squad announcements by Zdravko Logarušić and team have raised eyebrows in some circles as it seems many of the U23 national team players are failing to make the cut for the senior squad.
A closer examination of the CHAN 2020 squad announcement only four players were part of the U23 setup a year ago, while in the AFCON squad that was recently announced only one player seemed to impress the senior team coaches.
It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in selection meetings where U23 coach Tonderai Ndiraya who is part of the senior team coaching setup just to hear how far he goes to advocate for some of his former charges. When he was appointed to the newly formed technical team much was made out about his knowledge of the current U23 landscape in Zimbabwean football and how he could be counted on to advise the new coach about impressive prospects in that age group. I am not advocating for preferential treatment to the U23 players but outside of our core of stars the likes of Knowledge Musona, Marvellous Nakamba, Khama Billiat, Tino Kadewere, Marshall Munetsi, and Teenage Hadebe to name a few. We should also have a nucleus of U23 talent to support the cast and learn as much as they can from their seniors.
What is ZIFA’s stance on a defined continuation policy from U23 to the senior side and what measures are in place that talent is not lost or lacks enough exposure at senior level. The top footballing nations seem to have a defined identifiable path for juniors to follow in pursuit for senior caps. Nations such as Germany, France, Italy (of late), Uruguay and Brazil come to mind in this case.
This is the same on the African continent the Ghana U20 side that won the 2009 World Cup in Egypt saw many of the players earn call ups and extended careers in the national team. For example, Andre Ayew 86 caps, Jonathan Mensah 65 caps, Samuel Inkoom 46 caps, David Addy 21 caps, Emmanuel Rabiu 21 caps, Emmanuel Agyemang-Bad 78 caps, Mohammed Rabiu 31 caps, and Dominic Adiyiah 20 caps just to mention a few.
Even Zambia is aware of the importance of a full-on integration between the senior side and the youth ranks. Players such as Patson Daka who has been playing for both the Zambian U20 side and national team from 2015 and has amassed 24 caps over that time, or Conlyde Luchanga who has 15 senior caps at the age of 23, then there is Justin Shonga a 23 year old player with 24 caps, and Jackson Chirwa a 24 year old with 28 caps. I could go on and on.
The bottomline is the Warriors gain little from continuing to call the likes of Patson Jaure, Thabani Kamusoko and Nyasha Mushekwi when we can start developing the national team’s future core at CHAN 2020 going forward.
Please leave your comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts.