Zifa president Cuthbert Dube has once again come to the rescue of the broke national football association after it emerged on Thursday he had dug deeper into his personal savings to fund the Zimbabwe Under-23 football team’s trip to South Africa.
The Young Warriors, who are scheduled to play their neighbours on Saturday at the Sinaba Stadium in Johannesburg for the Zone VI All-Africa Games final round football qualifier, had been expected to fly out of the country on Thursday morning but failed to take off as the bankrupt association could not raise enough money for air tickets for the 25-member delegation.
The team was rescheduled to leave this morning.
It could not be established on Thursday how much Dube had forked out, but Young Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare confirmed the team had failed to depart yesterday because tickets had not been secured and the Zifa boss had come to the rescue of the squad.
“We had been given the impression that the tickets have been bought and the team would fly out today (Thursday) in the morning but we were later told that the tickets were not available,” said Mpandare on Thursday.
”That is when we approached the Zifa president who moved swiftly to release money through his company but unfortunately the plane was already fully booked. We only managed to secure seats for today,” added Mpandare.
On Wednesday Dube held a reception for the Young Warriors where he promised them some incentives in the event that they won or at least drew against South Africa’s Amaglug-glug.
He also promised to use money from his personal savings to clear out all the debts owed to players.
Zifa owes at least $11 000 in winning bonuses from the Zone VI All-Africa Games qualifying campaign where Zambia and Botswana have been accounted for.
But Mpandare on Thursday revealed Dube had already paid part of the amount and has promised to pay the balance when the team returns from South Africa.
“We were given part of the amount yesterday from his Buymore businesses and he has said the rest will be cleared upon our return from South Africa. We want to thank the Zifa president for what he has done. It clearly shows that he has football at heart. The money will go a long way in motivating the players going into such a big match,” said Mpandare.
Dube refuted media reports that his board had neglected the Young Warriors.
Speaking during the same reception, Dube urged the government and the corporate world to come on board and sponsor the Young Warriors whom he termed the “golden generation”.
The team boasts striker Mathew Rusike who will be going for trials with English Premiership side Bolton Wonderers just after the Amaglug-glug game while Mamelodi Sundowns-bound Simba Sithole is also an ace in the team.
The return of Dynamos’ midfielder Archford Gutu from suspension and that of Ajax Cape Town’s Tafadzwa Rusike would also be good news.
Coach Friday Phiri, who spied on his opponent’s last game against Benin in the 2012 London Olympics qualifier last Sunday in which Amaglug-glug hammered their opponent 5-1, also has players like Trevor Mutero, Abbas Amidu and Joel Ngodzo who are all capable of taking the game by the scruff of the neck when the need arises.