From Warriors heartbreak to the Chevrons – the pretty and ugly of 2022

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By Darlington Gatsi

LOCAL sport continued on a rebound after enduring the effects of virulent COVID-19 pandemic in the previous two years.

As the curtain comes down on the year 2022, traces the highs and lows of different sporting codes.

Warriors AFCON heartbreak

Zimbabwe senior football team, Warriors, went into this year’s rescheduled Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon looking to progress past the group stages for the first time in its history at the continental showpiece. Tasked with ensuring the feat was former Warriors player Norman Mapeza.

Mapeza’s charges showed resilience against African heavyweights Senegal losing through a Sadio Mane penalty at the tail end of the game. Warriors could not replicate the same performance as they suffered a 2-1 defeat in the hands of neighbours Malawi.

The defeat ensured Zimbabwe were eliminated from AFCON with a game to spare. Warriors defeated Guinea 2-1 to bounce home with three points as the bad spell of being eliminated from the group stages in its five appearances.

Zimbabwe football ban by FIFA

2022 will go down as arguably the worst year in Zimbabwean football as the country was hit with a blanket suspension by football governing body FIFA. Zimbabwe was iced from the football community as a result of a third party interference in local affairs.

The Sports and Recreation Commission suspended the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) body led by Felton Kamambo in 2021, attracting the FIFA suspension early this year. As the consequences of FIFA suspension Zimbabwe cannot participate in football activities.

The feud between SRC and ZIFA has refused to fade away with the former adamant on bringing order to the latter.

Zimbabwe Cricket exploits at 2022 T20I World Cup

At the beginning of the year, uncertainty of Zimbabwe playing at this year’s T20 world was lingering. Zimbabwe had not booked a place at the global showpiece and had to go through the qualifying phase in Bulawayo midyear.

Poor performances put the Chevrons’ qualifying in doubt as they suffered losses to lowly ranked Namibia 3-2 in the T20 series held in Bulawayo. Humiliated by the defeat, Zimbabwe Cricket fired head coach Lalchund Rajput succeeding him with legend Dave Houghton. The appointment invigorated the Chevrons who qualified to the world cup.

In the build up to the World Cup Zimbabwe scored a rare series 2-1 One Day International (ODI) victory against Bangladesh on home soil. The Chevrons went on to record a victory in Australia albeit losing three match T20 series 1-2.

Chevrons stole the hearts of many at the world cup as they put up gutsy performances to qualify for the super 12 for the first time. Zimbabwe notched up a victory against Pakistan in the super 12.

Kudakwashe Chivandire Queen of the ring

Kudakwashe Chiwandire etched her name into history books as she won the coveted WBC bantamweight title. Chiwandire beat Zambian Cathrine Phiri in her backyard. As if the feat was not enough Chiwandire defended the WBC bantamweight in Harare after defeating Mexican Zulina Munoz by unanimous decision.

Zimbabwe Netball team sealed a world cup berth

Zimbabwe Netball team GEMS sealed their second consecutive world cup spot to be held in Cape Town, South Africa. The Gems shrugged off competition from Namibia and Zambia to book one of two remaining African spots at the global showpiece. Zimbabwe will be looking to better their 2019 record when they finished in eighth position.

Sables fail to qualify for World Cup

Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) pulled all punches to ensure the senior men’s team qualify for next year’s world cup. All attention by ZRU was directed to Sables with the team going through a rigorous camping in South Africa. However Sables faltered when it mattered most against arch rivals Namibia in rugby Africa cup which served also as world qualifiers held in France. Sables went 19- 34, quashing all world cup dreams.