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Afcon 2017: Game of Apologies, Boycotts, Greed and Threats

Harare – Incumbent COSAFA and Zifa President, Philip ‘Captain Fiasco’ is a flashy character – he hardly misses a chance to express himself ...

Harare – Incumbent COSAFA and Zifa President, Philip ‘Captain Fiasco’ is a flashy character – he hardly misses a chance to express himself – or to even parade his fortunes – but the current crop of Warriors wilted his remnant pride reserves as he offered an apology after the team boycotted a farewell dinner over unresolved allowance matters.

Problems within Zimbabwean football did not emanate with Chiyangwa’s reign – but it was his insistence he could eloquently decipher financial snags bedeviling the football institution that makes the script curious.

Captain Fiasco – a sworn persuasive speaker, politician and businessman, temporarily reincarnated a commando-minded leader seeking the best from famished subjects.

“What we want is money and not promises. This funny agreement which says money will be transferred into our accounts is a joke – these guys are not good at keeping promises,” a senior player said.
Coach Callisto Pasuwa in Blanket

In a bid to salvage his wounded ego, the Zifa Premier tried to dribble the players by infusing coercion-cum-threat tactics.

“Chiyangwa said he will call Issa Hayatou, the Caf president, and request that Zimbabwe registers a new team and that did not help matters. That made things worse,” a source revealed.

Still, the Warriors did not budge. And even an F-word was shot towards an administrator by one wayward player – Mathew Rusike, it is alleged.

In the end, the players’ demands reigned. After remaining holed in their hotel rooms – Chiyangwa was frothing with retaliation, while the acting president, sports minister and guests waited.

Finally, an urgent meeting was convened. If the Warriors achieve the impossible – against Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia – and clinch the title, they are set to pocket a monstrous $107 000 in less than a month, in a nation were pocketing a dollar is a protracted struggle.

Part of the agreement signed by Warriors representatives promised huge rewards.

“Qualification bonus: 60 percent Zifa and 40 percent team. Appearance and winning bonuses will be escalated at US$2 000 per game. Appearance fees (for) group stage to the players’ accounts/technical accounts on or before the 12th of January 2017.”

Earlier, Captain Fiasco had been arrayed before his superiors and cautioned not to “behave like a law unto himself.”

Appearing on football talk show, Winston Makamure a renowned player agent said both parties are liable.

“The problem has always been there. Managers must make sure when players go on the pitch they must not fight this money battle. Administrators should set standards of accommodation, welfare and allowances. Players must come in knowing what they get.”

Makamure who managed the great Peter Ndlovu was unyielding.

“When you are managing a player, you are managing a brand and must create value. Players must know what they want to achieve by playing at Afcon – it’s an opportunity to market their skills but we need to be realistic. Before, players had passion for football – these days it’s different.”

In the end, both Zifa and players offered apologies.

“Zifa apologises to all football stakeholders in Zimbabwe for the failure by the Zimbabwe senior men’s team to attend the scheduled send-off ceremony at Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare and the team’s consequent failure to travel to Cameroon for an international friendly match.”
As predicted, the statement oozed threats.

“A full investigation is underway, and should any element of sabotage be detected – action will be taken to ensure that those involved will face the full wrath of the association. Zifa will further take action to ensure that Zimbabwe is indeed represented at the Afcon finals.”

But will the expectant soccer fans forgive and forget to cheer their Warriors as they battle in Gabon.

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