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Determined Warriors Urge Zimbabwe to Back the Team Despite Financial Woes that Risked the Team’s 2017 AFCON Participation

Zimbabwe is ready to put financial woes behind them after a rough start to Gabon 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, due to slow preparations linked to financial issues. Zimbabwe kicked off with a boycott prior to the AFCON games as a protest over worsening financial debts.

It started with the refusal to attend a send-off dinner last Friday in Harare, leaving the country’s acting President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to preside over the function without the main guests.

Players demanded payment of monies owed from the qualifiers in addition to a $5000 appearance fee for each game played in Gabon. The team’s determination came with no compromise despite Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) reportedly offering $2500 per game citing, unsustainable demands by the players.

The send-off boycott was followed by the team’s refusal and failure to depart the following day, Saturday as planned. Stating the team’s desire to compete at this year’s AFCON games, Warriors captain, Willard Katsande told Star FM Zimbabwe what was at stake.

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

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”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,”[/perfectpullquote]

he said.

Tuesday’s friendly with Cameroon will go a long way in showing the importance of good preparation, even though ZIFA was able to partially meet the players’ demands, in order to avoid a no-show and international crisis.

But while some reactions have dimmed the Warriors as “a bunch of greedy footballers”, Katsande is focused on the team’s determination to display a fairytale performance at the 2017 AFCON games, but did not take well to the misperceptions clouding the real issues affecting the players.

“It is sad that some people are looking at us as mercenaries, but speaking on behalf of the players, we beg to differ. We are not a problem and even our administration understands that we cannot work for free.

“While we were negotiating with our officials, we never stopped training which shows that we never lost focus on the job at hand and whatever we did, we did as a team and not as individuals.

“It would be sad if any individuals were to be targeted or sacrificed. We have always been a united team and we remain united and after all that we have done for this country, we don’t think it is fair to look at us as being greedy.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”We have played a number of games without being paid because we understood the situation that our association was in and we still understand and we believe they also understand that as professionals, we need to be paid for any job done as this is not playing for free,”[/perfectpullquote]

he said.

The opening game against Algeria in Franceville on Sunday, will prove testament in the team’s pursuit for success. Of course not forgetting other group contenders in Senegal and Tunisia, who will add to the heap of challenges in the group stage qualifications.

“This is AFCON and it is a big tournament that we are aiming for as Zimbabwe and we want to try as much as we can to bring the cup home because we believe that nothing is impossible and that is the mentality in the camp,” Katsande added.

In a message urging the nation to stand firm in support of the team’s AFCON campaign, Katsande said, “My message to all Zimbabweans as we enter the jungle is that we are going to fight as real Warriors they mustn’t be distracted with everything they hear or read.

“Let’s stick together and support the team. Go Warriors Go.

“With the kind of support that Zimbabwe is capable of giving us we are going to leave our mark in Africa.”


Featured Photo: Zimbabwe players seek a new chapter amidst financial disputes in pursuit of AFCON glory (GETTY IMAGES)

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