Zifa president Cuthbert Dube yesterday made a mid-air somersault over the suspension of 82 football players fingered in the Asiagate scandal.
In a statement that differed with that of chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze, Dube said the only players who had been suspended from national team selection were Nyasha Mushekwi, Method Mwanjali and Thomas Sweswe.
Dube said they communicated that to Warriors coach Norman Mapeza, adding that their advice was not cast in stone.
Mashingaidze on Monday announced that all the 82 players who were involved in the Asiagate sojourns had been suspended from the national team and could only be selected again after they were cleared by the Ethics Committee.
But Mashingaidze’s boss was singing from a different hymn book yesterday.
“We do not want match-fixing, that is why we started this process. It is the reason why we have suspended administrators. On the issue of players, we have not written a single letter to any player advising them of suspension,” said Dube.
“When you are suspended you get formal communication and no player can come and say he received such communication. What we have done is that we have advised the national team coach and his team to exclude three players — Method Mwanjali, Thomas Sweswe and Nyasha Mushekwi — because of the severity of their cases,” said Dube.
Dube said the three players featured prominently in the Asiagate reports. Suspicion of continued participation in match-fixing seems to have triggered the banning of the trio after the Cape Verde match that the Warriors lost 2-1.
“The three have not been playing well anyway and we could have won the match against Cape Verde had it not been for them. The coach can still select them if he so wishes, but we are saying it would be in the best interest of the team and the players themselves for them to be excluded until the issue is brought to conclusion,” said the Zifa boss.
While Dube denied that they had suspended players, Mashingaidze in yesterday’s NewsDay issue confirmed the suspension of the 82 players.
“This confirms the exclusion of all players from the national team assignments until they have been cleared or otherwise by the disciplinary committee,” said Mashingaidze.
Mwanjali is said to have played badly in the match against Cape Verde which the Warriors needed to win to qualify for the finals, which are currently taking place in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Mushekwi, on the other hand, missed good scoring
opportunities and suspicions of match-fixing continue to dog the players.
After yesterday’s U-turn, Warriors regulars such as Ovidy Karuru, Khama Billiat, Gilbert Mapemba, Willard Katsande and reserve goalkeeper Washington Arubi, among others, are now in contention for places in the team that will play Burundi at the end of the month.
The Ethics Committee is led by retired judge Ahmed Ebrahim.
Dube said the committee would be allowed to carry through its mandate and no further suspensions would be made until completion of the probe.
The probe is set to gather pace ahead of scheduled finalisation next month with players and administrators set to learn their fate.