BY HENRY MHARA
ZIFA president Felton Kamambo has said Warriors players will be richly rewarded for their participation at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) with the local football governing body set to table an “attractive package”.
Each player will be required to sign a contract with the association over bonuses and appearance fees for next month’s finals in Egypt to avoid the distractions and problems that rocked the team’s preparations for the 2017 Gabon Afcon finals.
Two years ago, Warriors players threatened to boycott their trip to Cameroon for an Afcon warm-up match in protest over match fees, daily allowances and winning bonuses.
The revolt saw players snub a send-off dinner that was graced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the guest of honour. The dinner was held just before the team’s departure for Yaoundé, en-route to Gabon.
The team consequently missed their flight as players insisted on getting their bonuses first and only agreed to travel after thrashing out a payment plan with the association.
Kamambo said his administration was determined to avoid a similar embarrassing situation, and had drawn up contracts for all players, which include the details of the payment structure and amounts.
“We have tried by all means to make sure that the allowances are very attractive and whatever we are offering right now is the minimum that we can give. After the fundraising and other activities, we will add some more. We really want to pay our players well, so that they can do duty for the country,” Kamambo said.
“The Zifa board has approved the rates and team manager (Wellington Mpandare) is engaging all players in terms of the contracts. Hopefully, by the time they come for camp and when we have a send-off ceremony on the 25th, all the contracts would have been done. If there is a particular player that does not agree with the contents of the contract, that player is not going into the camp. We need to agree on this very important aspect before a player can go into camp.”
Kamambo did not give details of the financial package they have prepared for the players for their participation in Egypt, but might be forced to match or improve on the fees that the Warriors got the last time around.
To play in Gabon, each player was reportedly paid a daily allowance of US$1 500, an appearance fee of $5 000 for each match.
The players also reportedly asked for a $6 000 winning bonus, an amount which they wanted increased by $2 000 with every stage they reach. Zimbabwe is in Group A alongside hosts Egypt, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Warriors will play the Pharaohs in Cairo in the tournament opener on June 21, before facing The Cranes of Uganda five days later. They will conclude their group campaign with a match against the Leopards.
Zifa have given Sunday Chidzambga and his men a target of reaching the knock-out stage, which if achieved, will be a first for Zimbabwe, who are making their fourth appearance at the continental showpiece.
“We are in a very fair group, and I have always said you need to play the best to be the best. We are not going there to make numbers; we are going there to compete. I’m confident we can get results out of that group, and progress beyond what people are expecting.”
The 34-man Warriors training squad started trooping into camp on Sunday, with most of the South Africa-based contingent already in the country with others expected last night.
Wales-based Alec Mudimu and Tino Kadewere of France arrived on Sunday. Tendai Darikwa, Marvellous Nakamba and Admiral Muskwe are all expected on Thursday. Captain Knowledge Musona is expected to join the squad in Durban, South Africa, where the team will make a stop-over to participate in the Cosafa Cup, before proceeding to Nigeria for a final warm-up match on June 8. Recalled Nyasha Mushekwi will join the team in Nigeria.
There is an injury worry in the team, with Teenage Hadebe struggling with a knock he picked in Kaizer Chiefs’ last game of the season last weekend.