Warriors coach Norman Mapeza was left in shock yesterday after the number of suspended players rose to 82 from 67 and included former captain Method Mwanjali and Thomas Sweswe, who will now be excluded from national football duty while investigations into their alleged involvement in the Asiagate scam continue.
This has left Mapeza with an insurmountable task to build a solid team for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Burundi at the end of this month and the World Cup qualifiers starting in June.
But Mapeza seems to have known what was coming after he dropped Mwanjali from two friendly matches last year and was preparing for the future when he thrust Lincoln Zvasiya into central defence against South Africa.
And yesterday, he said he would only be available for interviews next week when he finishes the week-long coaching course currently underway.
Mapeza was allegedly informed of the decision on Monday after a meeting attended by Zifa president Cuthbert Dube, his deputy Ndumiso Gumede, board member (finance) Elliot Kasu, board member (competitions) Benedict Moyo and chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze.
Mashingaidze told NewsDay Sport yesterday: This confirms the exclusion of all players from national team assignments until they have been cleared or otherwise by the disciplinary committee.
We are dealing with the most active players and not those that played one or two games. But if we exclude those that played a few games, then we will be scratching on the surface.
They will be interviewed starting from next month (this month) and finishing mid-March. Now its up to the players to own up. Remember Fifa has also said players, and even officials, must own up. There are also a lot of issues to do with the Cape Verde match last year where some people were very close to the match-fixing cartels.
We are not saying the players are guilty, no, but they have to clear their names. From Mashingaidzes statements, Mapeza is likely to have the following players available for the Burundi match: Ovidy Karuru, Cuthbert Malajila, Zhaimu Jambo, Washington Arubi, Daniel Vheremu, Gilbert Mapemba, Khama Billiat, Willard Katsande and Oscar Machapa.
This is in addition to the untainted Tinashe Nengomasha, Knowledge Musona, Lincoln Zvasiya and Tapuwa Kapini. On the effect on national teams, he said: Its time to plan for the future. We cannot keep on clinging to the past and using players that did not give us results.
We failed to qualify with those players, so whats the point? There are a lot of youngsters that need to be given an opportunity in the national teams. We also need to inculcate values of honesty in players from this clean-up.
Sources said last night: Everyone who is a player has been suspended. There should be another meeting either on Thursday (tomorrow) or Friday that will deal specifically with administrators, coaches and other people involved.
Yet other sources said Mapeza has been directed to specifically drop Mwanjali, Sweswe and Nyasha Mushekwi from forthcoming national assignments.
I tried to confirm who exactly has been suspended and I was told no one, then I heard 67 players, then 24 and now its three. So I am not sure what has happened, but what I can confirm is that a meeting took place yesterday (Monday) and a decision to suspend all implicated players was reached and not just a few, sources added.
Fifa got into the happenings in Zimbabwe last night, confirming they were closely monitoring the developments.
Please understand that at the moment we are looking into the matter. Therefore, for the time being, we cannot comment further. Feel free to contact us again in a few weeks and we hope to be able to say more, the Fifa media department said last night in response to questions from NewsDay Sport.