ZIMBABWE football reached new lows last night after coach Kalisto Pasuwa failed to release his squad for Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group L qualifier against the Flames of Malawi set for Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
Should the Warriors fail to fulfil the match, they will face a ban from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) in addition to another World Cup ban by Fifa.
While it is understood that the squad was picked over the weekend and was supposed to have been released on Sunday, it seems the same old financial problems cropped up as there is no money for camping, allowances and the trip itself.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Pasuwa and team manager Sharif Mussa failed while Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze was not picking up his phone.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said last night after 8pm: “I was expecting the team today (yesterday). The matter is being handled by the general secretary (Mashingaidze), but we are hoping to get it tomorrow (today), so that we prepare immediately.
“We acknowledge that we are running out of time, but our preparations have been hampered by the lack of financial resources.”
Zifa has no money, no corporate sponsors or even government funding and has had to rely on the benevolence of its president Cuthbert Dube for funding.
Now that the Zifa councillors want him out by next week, he has seemingly tied up his pursestrings after the humiliation of having his household property and cars attached last month over a debt owed to a local hotel that had accommodated the Warriors.
Sources last night told NewsDay Sport: “Three days of training is not enough for the coach. Clearly, there is no money for camping, allowances and bonuses for both the players and the technical team.
“The board members can’t raise any funding, they have been too dependent on the president (Dube) and now he is saying the councillors want him out, so why should he bother.
“The Ministry (of Sport, Arts and Culture) is broke and so is the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), so there is no one to turn to.”
Dube was also not picking up his phone last night.
Pasuwa, though, is expected to name a strong squad featuring the likes of striker Knowledge Musona who plays his club football in Belgium for KV Oostende, and the Mamelodi Sundowns duo of forwards Khama Billiat and Cuthbert Malajila.
Kaizer Chiefs anchorman Willard Katsande, Mpumalanga Black Aces striker Tendai Ndoro, the Pretoria University duo of goalkeeper Washington Arubi and defender Partson Jaure and Supersport United goalkeeper George Chigova are also expected to be called in at short notice.
While the Warriors were in a quandary, Malawi lost 2-1 to Egypt last night in an international friendly as they prepared for the crucial qualifier against the Warriors.
Ahmed Hassan Mekky scored the opener for Egypt in the 19th minute before Mohammed El Gabbas added the second two minutes after the break.
The Flames reduced the arrears through John Christopher Banda in the 64th minute.
The Flames coach Young Chimodzi has called up a mixture of youth and experience led by captain Joseph Kamwendo who plays for TP Mazembe in the Democratic Republic of Congo, former Russia-based striker Esau Kanyenda, Pretoria University forward Atusaye Nyondo and Caps United’s Gerald Phiri.
Phiri played the full match against Egypt last night.
The Flames will fly back to Blantyre today and will have three more days of training before the Saturday game having spent quite an awful lot of time together at the just ended Cosafa Cup where they beat Zambia 1-0 to claim the Plate Championship.
Meanwhile, SuperSport has announced its schedule for the coverage of Afcon qualifiers this weekend with the Warriors-Malawi match pencilled for 2:15pm on SS3 on Saturday.
South Africa’s fixture against Gambia on Saturday will also be live on SS4, from 2:30pm.
Other fixtures for broadcast on Saturday are Malawi v Zimbabwe (SS3, 2:15pm); Nigeria v Chad (SS3/Select 1/Select 1 Go, 4:30pm); South Africa v Gambia (SS4/SelSA, 2:30pm); Zambia v Guinea Bissau ( SS9, 2:45pm); Angola v CAR (Max 1, 4:15pm).
Sunday’s TV fixtures are Mozambique v Rwanda (Max 360, SS3, 2:50pm); Congo v Kenya (SS9E/SS5 (A/N), SS4 (SA), Select 1 and Select 1 Go, 4:15pm); and Ghana v Mauritius (SS3, 5:15pm).