The Warriors wasted a day of training yesterday as they waited all day, but still failed to travel to Maputo, Mozambique for their second 2014 World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
The Warriors were due to leave on the mid-day flight, but they were moved to a later flight as Zifa sought funding for overnight accommodation in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Head of delegation Nigel Munyati, who is also Zifa board member for marketing, had said earlier: “We couldn’t find a connecting flight from Johannesburg to Maputo, hence the delay. We have decided that the team leaves in the evening and will put up in South Africa then connect to Maputo tomorrow morning (today). We are working on finding accommodation for the team in SA.”
But those plans again fell apart as they needed to raise $44 850 for the flight and also secure funds for overnight accommodation.
Said team manager Nyika Chifamba last night: “We are now leaving tomorrow morning (this morning) and we should be in Maputo at 1455hrs.” They are now expected to leave at 720am, if everyting goes according to plan.
While Munyati said the delay was caused by the association’s failure to secure a connecting flight to Mozambique, the problem seems to go beyond that.
The travelling delegation arrived at the airport at around 11:30am looking ready to depart.
They had already sealed their bags while others had joined the queue for check-in when coach Rahman Gumbo arrived to break the sad news about the delayed departure. The team was then driven back to a restaurant in town where they had lunch before returning to their lodging to cap an eventful two days for the Warriors. First, they were denied access to the National Sports Stadium for a training session on Wednesday in a move the technical team suspect is an underhand plot by some elements to sabotage them.
That same evening, the Warriors were also briefly denied access to their rooms at a local lodge. Munyati said they were only allowed in after Zifa president Cuthbert Dube “made a commitment to pay the outstanding debt”.
Despite all the problems they encountered, Warriors players looked unperturbed.
“We are professionals, we have to adjust to every situation,” said midfielder Willard Katsande, who plays for Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa. “We will just go there and enjoy ourselves on the field and if we do that a result will definitely come. We tried our best against Guinea, but we were just unfortunate not to find an equaliser.
“We lacked the final pass and we have been working in that area and the finishing. I think we are getting there,” added the Chiefs midfielder.
Veteran Esrom Nyandoro said he expects a tough encounter against the Black Mambas. He singled out his Mamelodi Sundowns teammate and Mozambique star man Elias Pelembe as the major threat to the Warriors’ cause.
“He is a good player, quick on the ball and is very tricky. But we will not look at him as an individual, but we will look at Mozambique as a team. We will also work as a team. If we win we will win as a team and if we lose, we will have to fall as a team. We have worked on our mistakes from the previous match and I think we will do much better this time,” said Nyandoro.
The Warriors will have to win the match to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2014 Fifa World Cup to be held in Brazil. Following their defeat last week, they are on third on the group standings with Egypt perched at the summit.
Guinea are second while Mozambique are at the bottom.
Gumbo yesterday named his final travelling squad, making only two changes to the 18 member squad that made it on to the team sheet against Guinea.
Dynamos defender Patson Jaure and FC Platinum’s Charles Sibanda were dropped and have been replaced by Hwange striker Rodwell Chinyengetere and Botswana-based defender Arnold Chaka.
Travelling squad: T Kapini, O Machapa, C Nyadombo, E Nyandoro, V Nyoni, T Nengomasha, A Gutu, O Karuru, K Musona, K Billiat, T Chinyama, M Jani, W Katsande, O Bhasera, D Mukamba, T Mandaza, R Chinyengetere, A Chaka