Warriors morale plummets

Itai Dzamara

MORALE in the national soccer team, the Warriors, continues to plummet as the effects of poor planning take their toll less than a fortnight before departure for the African Nations finals in Tu

nisia.


Having played only two friendly matches against a Botswana side and an insipid El Salvador, uncertainty shrouds the possibility of playing another competitive friendly before the continental showcase.


Another friendly match that had been earmarked for Sunday against Zambia was cancelled this week. Although Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) chief executive officer Edgar Rodgers said the match would be moved to the following Sunday, this paper has it on good authority that it is likely to fail.


“We are planning to move the match to the following Sunday. However, we are yet to agree on the appearance fees,” said Rodgers.

Rodgers said the Warriors are scheduled to leave for Tunisia on January 19, a day after the date set for the friendly against Zambia.


A South Africa-based contingent of six players was expected home last night and would not have been fully assessed by coach Sunday Marimo by the time he should announce his final squad early next week.


Warriors’ manager Rafiq Adam yesterday said Kaitano Tembo, Wilfred Mugeyi, Adam Ndlovu, Alois Bunjira, Tinashe Nengomasha and Charles Yohane were expected last night.


Europe-based George Mbwando, Harrington Shereni and Benjani Mwaruwari are expected on Tuesday.


Captain and Sheffield United striker Peter Ndlovu will only be released on January 18, a day before the scheduled departure for Tunisia.


Adam said Zifa had written to Ndlovu’s club requesting them to release the Warriors’ kingpin earlier, but is yet to receive a response. A visit to the Warriors’ camp by IndependentSport this week revealed that morale was low among players and the technical team.


“This is just discouraging. The whole scene is characterised by confusion,” said a senior player. “Inevitably, the morale gets to the lowest level. I doubt if at all we will play another friendly match before departure.”


Adam last week fired a broadside at the majority of locally-based players after a slow start of camp. He blamed indiscipline on part of the players.

Meanwhile, another can of worms could be opened amid fears it could jeopardise the preparations before the finals over the role and sincerity of L-Sporto. The sports consultant firm based in Italy was awarded a contract by Zifa to plan the Warriors’ preparations, make travel arrangements and provide the kit, but bungled by bringing in a questionable El Salvador side for a friendly match.


Sports Commission chairman Anthony Mandiwanza yesterday said the body would probe the deal which he acknowledged was shrouded in mystery.

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