Zimbabwe Under-23 coach Friday Phiri was finally granted an emergency travel document by the Home Affairs department on Thursday morning to travel to Zambia for the opening game of the All-Africa Games Zone VI first round qualifiers.
The Young Warriors gaffer failed to travel with the rest of the squad on Wednesday afternoon to Lusaka as he was still sorting out his travel documents.
However, the Eagles coach managed to sneak out of the country Thursday afternoon and is expected to join the rest of the team on Friday.
The Young Warriors will clash with their northern counterparts, Young Chipolopolo of Zambia, at Nkoloma Stadium tomorrow with the reverse fixture pencilled for Rufaro Stadium on January 22.
Zifa administration officer Christopher Emmanuel confirmed Phiri managed to board a bus on Thursday afternoon and is expected to join the team on Friday.
“He managed to get an emergency travel document today (Thursday) in the morning and he departed at around midday. I have been trying to get hold of him but he is unreacable on his mobile number so I think he is now in Zambia,” said Emmanuel on Thursday late in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the team that left Harare on Wednesday by road arrived in Zambia at around midnight the same day.
Team manager Wellington Mpandare, speaking to NewsDay Sport from Lusaka on Thursday, said the team travelled well and received a “decent” reception from their Zambian counterparts.
“We travelled well, we had no problems at all and arrived here at around 9pm,” said Mpandare.
The Young Warriors are staying at the GolfView, a three star hotel in Lusaka.
“The reception was OK, we can’t complain at all. I think it was the best reception which you can expect from a host nation. I should admit that the Zambians are very welcoming compared to the treatment we are used to especially from the northern countries. This is good for fair play,” added Mpandare.
Mpandare said the team held their morning and afternoon session at the Barclays Sports Club under the watchful eye of assistant coach Darlington Dodo.
“The players looked a bit tired during the morning session most probably because of the long journey but were very sharp in the afternoon session. Everyone is prepared for the match and it is my hope that we will get a positive result on Saturday (Saturday),” said Mpandare.
Mpandare also said he is expecting Joel Ngodzo to join the rest of the team on Friday.
The young Highlanders sensation is in South Africa where he is having trials with a Premiership side, Vasco Da Gama, and he is expected to fly straight to Lusaka.
“I spoke to his agents yesterday and they promised that they will release him (Ngodzo) for the game and we are expecting him here tomorrow (Friday),”
The match will be officiated by South African officials while the match commissioner, Dintle Mphele, is from Botswana.
Daniel Volgraaff will be at the centre, assisted by Luyanda Somi and Zakhele Thusi Siwela. Bernard Chabalala is the fourth official.