Warriors boycott training

Coach Baltemar Brito and his technical team had to cancel the afternoon workout after players refused to come out of their rooms.

All is not well in the Warriors camp ahead of their crucial 2026 Fifa World Cup Group C qualifier against Nigeria on Sunday after players boycotted yesterday's scheduled training session in protest over unpaid allowances and bonuses.

Coach Baltemar Brito and his technical team had to cancel the afternoon workout after players refused to come out of their rooms.

Players were demanding their daily allowances for their stay in camp here as well as a bonus for their drawn match against Rwanda on Wednesday.

It is understood that Zifa Normalisation Committee chairperson Lincoln Mutasa, his deputy Cynthia Malaba and committee member Skhumbuzo Ndebele later intervened and promised the players a winning bonus of US$2 000 for the two matches but nothing if they draw, an arrangement the Warriors are not happy with.

Player sources said they have not received their daily allowances since arriving in Kigali.

Discontent was already in camp after the Zifa Normalisation Committee reportedly reduced the players' appearance fees from US$1 000 to US$500.

The sources said morale is very low in camp and could probably be the reason for the team's underwhelming perfomance against the east African minnows in the Group C opening match on Wednesday.

After hours of negotiations between the Zifa Normalisation Committe and the players through Footballers Union of Zimbabwe president Desmond Maringwa, and former Warriors captain Peter Ndlovu who are part of the delegation, the team agreed to an in-house gym session at around 5pm, before attending an event at the Zimbabwe embassy in Kigali later in the evening.

The players said they agreed to take part in the gym and the embassy event after Zifa transferred some money to their accounts.

It is not clear whether the players will train today as the money had not reflected in the players' bank accounts last night.

Yesterday's events came as a huge blow to the team's preparations ahead of the game against Nigeria at the Huye Stadium in Butare at the weekend.

The Warriors started their 2026 Fifa World Cup campaign with a nil-all draw against hosts Rwanda at the same venue.

The game marked the Warriors' return to competitive international football following a  two-year Fifa ban.

The Warriors squad hardly trained together before the game against Rwanda, with some players arriving the night before the game.

The locally-based players travelled to Rwanda over the weekend, but foreign-based players trickled in hours before the match.

Yesterday's planned training session which would have given Brito an opportunity to assess a full compliment of his players.

The Brazilian coach is now left with today to fine-tune his squad here in Kigali before travelling to Butare on Saturday ahead of the Sunday match.

Mutasa played down the stand-off.

"In any normal home, there will always be issues but solutions are found and people move forward," he said.

"This is not a strike, you will see those guys going to training just now," he said, but that never happened. "What had happend is there was an issue where we had to go to the embassy for a courtesy call. But the media want to create something out of nothing because they saw a bus outside, and the coaches were there. You should know that they don't speak English, so they (coaches) might have misread our plans. It's like you guys have an agenda against the normalisation committee," fumed Mutasa.

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