BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA IN CAIRO, EGYPT
Zifa has revealed that the Warriors players doing duty in Egypt have each been paid US$17 500 so after, following a barrage of criticism on the association as discontent among the players filtered through to the public.
Zimbabwe is set for a must-win clash against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) tomorrow, but the run-up to the match has been preceded by endless meetings between Zifa and players over payment issues, with boycott threats having been part of the episode.
It was also suggested that Zifa were considering withdrawing the team from the tournament after failing to meet the players’ demands.
But Zifa yesterday tried to cool the supporters’ raging tempers, revealing that the players and the local football governing body had reached consensus over the issues, where part of
the money the players were demanding had been paid and the Warriors were set for their training session yesterday evening, preparing for the crucial tie.
Zifa board member Farai Jere, who is head of delegation, told a Press conference that the Warriors were ready for the crucial clash against the DRC after receiving part of the money they were demanding.
Jere said each player had been paid US$17 500 by yesterday, out of the agreed US$24 000, including draw bonuses.
The Warriors were demanding US$3 000 each as draw bonuses for the match against Uganda which ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
“We are not pulling out of the tournament. The reports might have come out prematurely while we were in the process of negotiations. Negotiations of this nature are ongoing and we will
keep talking. But what I want to assure Zimbabweans is that come Sunday, we will play and our boys will be ready against the DRC to go to the next round,” he said.
Jere said the issue of payment of the Warriors had always been important to the association.
“The issue of payment has always been a topical issue and that is why we approached government to put in place a fundraising committee, and the payments are coming in from all angles – Zifa and the fundraising committee. During our discussion, we discovered that the biggest problem was that the players could not access the money in their accounts here, yet when these
payments are done back home, the money is put in their nostro accounts. It’s, therefore, up to the individual player to contact their bank so that they can be able to transact using
their bank cards.”
Jere added that some players had managed to check their account balances and confirmed that their money, indeed, had been paid.
Zimbabwe stand a good chance of making it through to the knockout stage if they manage to take all the three points against the DRC.
They will also need Egypt to win against Uganda for them to finish second, thereby earning a ticket to the round of 16.
Even a third place finish at four points can still earn them one of the four tickets reserved for the best-placed number three finishers.
Egypt cannot afford to let off as they will be targeting a top place finish in order to avoid one of the big guns so early in the tournament.
Winners of Group A will face one of the best third-place finishers in the next round.