WARRIORS captain, Willard Katsande has reacted with disappointment to media articles labelling the team “a bunch of mercenaries” following their stand-off with the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) over match fees, allowances and bonuses at the weekend.
BY HENRY MHARA
Katsande was unamused by an article in the Sunday Mail, where his players were attacked and labelled mercenaries, saying they deserve to be appreciated for what they have done for the nation.
“Its unfair to be called mercenaries because we sacrificed a lot throughout this campaign. We knew what we wanted from the start, putting all our efforts, time and sometimes our own resources ensuring that this campaign is a success,” he said.
“We went to Malawi by road, spending over 18 hours travelling. We also spent over seven hours on the road going to Swaziland. We went to Guinea and played a match on the day of arrival. Where were these people then that they call us mercenaries today? Why didn’t they call us that, then?”
The players, who only agreed to go to Cameroon after being paid their daily allowances, reported to be $1 500 each, are demanding an appearance fee of $5 000 per player for each match at Afcon, and $400 in foreign daily allowance.
The team staged a strike on Friday evening, just hours before their scheduled flight to Cameroon, where they are set to play a preparatory match against the hosts tomorrow before proceeding to Gabon for Africa Cup of Nations finals starting on Saturday.
The players snubbed a farewell party that had been organised by the government, and subsequently missed their flight to Yaoundé, as the dispute turned nasty.
The team left for Cameroon yesterday after their demands were partially met by Zifa.
“We are asking for what we think we deserve, and some people call us that (mercenaries). I think that is very unfair. And if we want to be honest, the $5 000 we are asking falls far short of what other players from other nations are getting. A team like Togo is giving its players something like $25 000 a match in appearance fees. From what we hear from our colleagues from other countries, we actually asked for less than what they are getting. Some players here actually received calls from their friends, who play in other countries, when our contract document was leaked and published on the internet. They are actually laughing at us that we are getting peanuts, but we understand our situation and we have accepted it,” Katsande said.
The report also alleges that Warriors midfielder Matthew Rusike verbally attacked Zifa vice president Omega Sibanda, in one of their meetings, a claim that Katsande has rubbished.
“Matthew didn’t swear at the Zifa vice-president, Omega Sibanda. The vice president came trying to address the players and Matthew told him, ‘please go talk to the captain, he is our mouth piece’. But today (yesterday) we woke up to a newspaper article saying he swore at the vice-president. If he had done that, I don’t think he could be still amongst us now. I was personally going to lobby for him to be removed from camp, because that is not us and is against what we believe in as the Warriors. I was right there when he spoke to Sibanda and for someone to then go and write outright lies, is unbelievable.”
Rusike denied swearing at Sibanda, posting on Twitter that “nobody enjoys the truth when a lie is more entertaining”.