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Warriors in danger

ZIMBABWE’S Warriors are in danger of missing out on a third consecutive Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) appearance after their 3-1 loss to reigning African champions Algeria coincided with Zambia’s 2-1 win over Botswana in Lusaka last week.

Insidesport: with Michael kariati

The Warriors are now only a point above Zambia in Group H and will have to win their next assignment against Algeria to avoid being overtaken by the Chipolopolo.

Algeria will certainly qualify for Afcon and the second team will come from the group of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana, and so far, nothing is guaranteed for the Warriors.

A loss against Algeria at home will make things more difficult for Zimbabwe as there are no guarantees that the Warriors will win in Gaborone or against Zambia at home.

Fine, a mistake was made when Zifa appointed Zdravko Logarušić at the expense of Joey Antipas — who knew our players better — but this is not the time to play blame games.

Logarušić, on his part, should make sure that he gets his team selection spot-on for the return game against the Desert Foxes. He should not be too arrogant, but should be prepared to listen to guidance from his assistants Tonderai Ndiraya and Lloyd Chitembwe.

There is no way a team that boasts the likes of Marvelous Nakamba, Jordan Zemura, Tino Kadewere, Knowledge Musona, Tendai Darikwa, Khama Billiat and Teenage Hadebe can fail to beat Algeria at home.

Logarušić is lucky that there won’t be any fans at the National Sports Stadium because Zimbabwean football fans can turn nasty when not happy with the proceedings on the field of play or the final result.

A point against Algeria won’t be all that bad, but maximum points should be the target. A draw between Zambia and Botswana would also be good for us.
Treat all national teams equally

Reports that the Zimbabwe women’s team, the Mighty Warriors, received a paltry US$2,50 daily allowance for their Cosafa Cup adventure does not give a good picture of Zimbabwean football, and in particular, Zimbabwe as a country.

How on earth did those running our football sink so low to the extent of looking down upon our national team players to such levels?

Fine, the Cosafa Cup might not be as big as Afcon, Olympic Games or Africa Women’s Championships, but surely Zifa could have done with a better or reasonable offer for the players.

The Mighty Warriors were representing Zimbabwe — and for that matter in a foreign country — and the image of Zimbabwe suffered heavily as a result of such mistreatment.

Surely, how does one expect schoolgirls to take up a career in football when they hear or read about these sad tales of how women footballers are being neglected?

There are too many questions that need to be answered as to how the situation could deteriorate to such embarrassing levels at the regional tournament.

What happened to the finances from the Fifa and Caf Covid-19 relief funds which Zifa claimed to have reserved for all national teams? Have those funds been
exhausted before their intended use and if so, how?

Has Cosafa also abandoned the system of paying allowances directly to players as they used to do in the past or that the Mighty Warriors’ share got into the wrong pockets?

What is disturbing is that this is not the first time that something like this has happened to the same team, but no effort has been made to address the issue.

Who can forget the year 2016 when the same Mighty Warriors returned from the Olympic Games only to receive a $5 for their participation?

That money was not even enough for bus fare to take some of them back home and four years later, such things continue to happen to our players.

The supreme sports body, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), promised to come hard on those at fault, but, as has always been the case, that was just talk.

Right now, that SRC is quiet about what happened in South Africa as if it is normal to give players allowances which cannot buy a decent meal back at home.

The Mighty Warriors, along with the Under-17 team that was also at the Cosafa Cup, lost all their matches, but what motivation would they have got from the $2,50 daily allowance and a $7 winning bonus?

In the past, women footballers returning from foreign assignments such as the Cosafa Cup were the envy of many with plastic bags full of shopping which should be the story even right now.

What happened in South Africa was not good for our football and Zifa should learn to treat all national teams the same instead of this lack of respect for our women players.

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