The Warriors’ preparations for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) football campaign could be in jeopardy with some players threatening to boycott the team’s camp in solidarity with fellow players who were omitted by interim coach Norman Mapeza, at the behest of Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa.
BY HENRY MHARA
Mapeza on Thursday named a provisional 25-man squad for the first match against Liberia at the National Sports Stadium on June 11.
The squad is expected to start camp on Monday.
Mapeza, however, dropped former team captain Willard Katsande, his vice Cuthbert Malajila, and forwards Mathew Rusike and Nyasha Mushekwi, allegedly on the orders of his bosses at Zifa.
Chiyangwa was last week quoted in a local newspaper declaring that the four “mercenaries” would never play for the Warriors as long as he was the Zifa boss.
The quartet stand accused of leading a mutiny that saw the team snubbing a send-off dinner with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the eve of the team’s departure for the Afcon finals in Gabon last year.
However, a senior player in the team, who was part of the squad for Gabon, who has been named in Mapeza’s squad, yesterday told NewsDay that they were planning to snub the call, in solidarity with their colleagues.
“It’s crazy to be honest. The captains were speaking on behalf of the whole team, why sacrifice the two only? If it’s their way to intimidate us, that will not work. We are not coming anyway,” said the player on condition of anonymity.
“We know why Nyasha is being treated that way by Zifa. The reason is not football-related at all and we won’t allow our friend to be victimised like that because it can also happen to us. We will support him and even if it means not playing for the Warriors again, so be it.”
When quizzed on why Rusike could have been dropped as well, the player said: “I’m not sure about Mathew, but we will soon find out. This mafia way of running football has to stop. Chiyangwa should have at least respected the players by not going to the newspapers and declaring that so-and-so players would never play for the Warriors under his tenure. He should respect us.”
Of the squad that went to Gabon, only Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Tendai Ndoro, Danny Phiri, Marvelous Nakamba, Evans Rusike, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Teenage Hadebe and Onismor Bhasera survived.
Costa Nhamoinesu and Tino Kadewere have not been playing for their clubs in recent weeks through injuries and were duly sidelined for the Liberia match.
Warriors team manager Wellington Mupandare, who announced the squad, said they had also sidelined Hardlife Zvirekwi because of an injury although the defender has been playing for his club, Caps United, in the Caf Champions League and was part of the team that beat USM Alger of Algeria in the competition this week.
Nhamoinesu yesterday took to social media to show his solidarity with the axed four, posting on his Twitter handle this message: “Keep your heads up boys. We were all in the same bus, same dressing room. Life goes on. Once a Warrior, always a Warrior.”
He accompanied the message with a collage picture of Katsande, Malajila, Mushekwi and Rusike. It was re-tweeted by various Warriors players including Musona and Rusike.
Mupandare said the list announced was not the final squad as they were still courting other players including England-based stars such as Tendai Darikwa, Brendon Galloway and Leeroy Benyu.
Goalkeepers: Edmore Sibanda (Caps United), Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Petros Mhari (FC Platinum)
Defenders: Dennis Dauda (Caps United), Partson Jaure, Qadr Amini (Ngezi Platinum), Onismor Bhasera (SuperSport, SA), Teenage Hadebe (Chicken Inn), Jameson Mukombwe (Black Rhinos), Eric Chipeta (Ajax Cape Town), Sydney Linyama (Black Rhinos)
Midfielders: Thabani Kamusoko (Young Africans, Tanzania), Devon Chafa, Ronald Chitiyo (Caps United), Simon Shoko (FC Platinum), Kudakwashe Mahachi, Danny Phiri (Golden Arrows, SA), Khama Billiat (Mamelodi Sundowns, SA),
Marvellous Nakamba (Vitesse Arnhem, Netherlands), Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum), Ovidy Karuru (Amazulu, SA)
Strikers: Tendai Ndoro (Orlando Pirates, SA), Evans Rusike (Maritzburg United, SA), Knowledge Musona (KV Oostende, Belgium), Prince Dube (Highlanders)