February 20, 2017

Zimbabwe players shun send-off, refuse to leave for Nations Cup

The Zimbabwe national team failed to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday morning as a stand-off over finances worsened.

The Warriors refused to attend a send-off dinner on Friday night in Harare, with the country’s acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa present at the function.

Players are demanding payment of money owed from the qualifiers, and they want a $5000 appearance fee for each game that they play at the Nations Cup finals in Gabon.

The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) is reportedly offering $2500 per game.

The team was due to depart for Cameroon in the early hours of Saturday, with a friendly against the Indomitable Lions scheduled for Tuesday, but the players are still in Harare.

Warriors captain Willard Katsande told Star FM Zimbabwe that despite the dispute, the team is not considering boycotting the tournament.

“Obviously we are going to play, but it’s a matter of discussing, as we deserve better,” he said.

“We’re not asking for much, we know what  we want as a team, we submitted our proposal long back but nobody listened to us.”

ZIFA has issued a statement apologising “to all football stakeholders in Zimbabwe and particularly to the acting President,” adding that “the situation resulted in the team embarrassing the entire nation.”

The statement also says that ZIFA is committed to ensuring that the tournament is successful for Zimbabwe, but that the players’ demands are not sustainable.

Zimbabwe have already had a troubled build-up to their Nations Cup preparations following a row over accommodation issues.

The Warriors begin their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a game against Algeria on 15 January in Franceville.