Dream Team missed date with immortality – The Herald

Posted: June 17, 2020 at 12:59 am

The Herald

Allan Muchibwa

Sports Correspondent

THE task of comparing teams across generations is never easy, largely due to the fact conditions are never uniform.

One thing I admit becomes apparent, during these discussions is that success, indeed, means different things to different people.

For some, the consideration has to be more than just cold, bare trophy hauls.

Football is also about intangibles the aura, the style and the effects of a team on generations to come.

The intangibles should be considered in tandem with the tangibles.

To be regarded as the best team has to come along with some measure of success, otherwise, it becomes easy to dismiss as a classic case of nostalgia, as opposed to a matter of fact.

Perhaps the fact that the greatness, or lack of it, of the Dream Team, has generated this debate, confirms we are in a new age in football, and sport, where the generation is obsessed with statistics and tangibles.

Every generation believes subsequent generations have it easier than they did.

The hallmark of great teams is always balance, demonstrated by significant contribution from all team members across the pitch.

The great teams of the world have standout players but they also had other members contributing in equal measure across the park.

The great AC Milan side of Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiolas Barcelona, Jupp Heynckes Bayern Munich, and Jurgen Klopps current Liverpool were all characterised by incredible balance right across the park.

The responsibility was distributed among the entire squad.

One could argue this was the case with Reinhard Fabischs Dream Team minus the success.

You would be hard pressed to single out a misfit from back to front.

They had the genius of Peter Ndlovu and the grace of Vitalis Takawira, but the supporting cast were no sloths either.

Can the same be said of the Warriors team, for example, which qualified for the 2017 AFCON finals under Callisto Pasuwa? Hardlife Zvirekwi was an honest, hardworking fullback, but is he in the class of Mercedes Rambo Sibanda?

How does the centre half pairing of Costa Nhamoinesu and Elisha Muroiwa compare to Ephraim Chawanda and Francis Shonhai?

One could argue that the Warriors teams that have come through since have been characterised by a marked and distinct reliance on individuals to carry the fortunes of the team.

It was Peter Ndlovu, for the most part, it has become Knowledge Musona and Khama Billiat lately.

But even when a team is gifted and balanced, how do we measure greatness if it does not translate into some form of achievement or success?

The Dream Team had the second highest number of points amassed in a single qualifying campaign.

We are limited to comparing qualifying campaigns number of points versus number of games played.

Was the Dream Team a great team?

Absolutely!

However, for many, they missed an opportunity to become a truly iconic team to create a dynasty, which explains how the younger generation perceives them.

Unfortunately, people do not consider how many runs a striker makes in a game they are more concerned by how many goals he bags.

It is the nature of sport, and life, in general. Will history remember Saul Chaminukas ZPC team or Callisto Pasuwas Dynamos team who actually won the title on that final day?

Charles Mhlauris CAPS United thrilled and delighted but continental history will record that David Mandigoras less fancied Dynamos got to the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League.

Manchester United won the Premier League title in the 1996/97 with 75 points, whilst Liverpool were runners-up in 2018-19 with 97 points.

In fact, this Liverpool team was so good Guardiola said it was probably the most difficult team he has had faced as a player or coach.

Under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Hotspur made huge strides both as a team and as a club.

However, they never won trophies they did not achieve the tangible and Pochettino was fired just months after reaching Champions League final.

Instead, Claudio Ranieris direct football at Leicester won them the league in the 2015/16 season.

Again, you can only beat what is in front of you.

The Warriors teams which have gone on and qualified for the AFCON finals have been exposed to possibly the some of the worst possible conditions in their qualifying campaign.

They travelled to Swaziland and Malawi by road, they have had hastily-arranged camps, they were not paid their bonuses, the environment was not conducive for them to do well.

The Dream Team had it better in this regard. Having an expanded format is no guarantee that a team qualifies.

Ghana missed out in 2004, Mali in 2006, Algeria in 2008, Morocco in 2010, Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria in 2012, Cameroon in 2013, Nigeria in 2015 and 2017.

In all these instances, these teams had some top, world-class talents in their respective setups.

The reason the Dream Team are still part of the discussion, decades later, is that the generation they thrilled are still present to add to the discussion.

The 2004 team will become more symbolic 40 years on, with a new generation, because they will be the first Warriors side to qualify for the AFCON finals whatever the circumstances.

What the Dream Team did can be eroded by time, because they are just memories, what the Warriors of 2004 did cannot, because they will always be backed by facts.

Memories fade as generations pass, but trophies, milestones and achievements stand the test of time.

The reality is that the Dream Team will be a favourite team, especially for the older generation, but years from now, they may not be as iconic as the 2004 Warriors team.

They will not have a place in the CAF records of participants like the Warriors of 2006, 2017 and 2019.

All teams encounter challenges and hurdles and they have to find ways to confront them.

Conditions are never perfect, teams will be judged against the conditions of their day, the Dream Team had a limited qualifying quota.

In an expanded format, some argue they would have qualified for the AFCON but, we will never know.

Meanwhile, the Warriors teams, post-2000, have had to deal with diabolical planning and organisation of colossal proportions.

One could argue with better administration, they would have done even better in qualifying, as well as at the competition finals.

The underlying reality, however, and a lesson for any sportsman, is that entertaining alone is not enough.

The Dream Team missed an opportunity to become the immortals of Zimbabwean football no one can question that.

Allan Muchibwa is a part-time guest sports analyst at Capitalk 100.4 FM and briefly worked as Dynamos media liaison officer.

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Dream Team missed date with immortality - The Herald

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