Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) spin doctors were at pains to explain the allowance stand-off that rattled the Warriors camp on the eve of their African Cup of Nations opener against Egypt.
In a statement aimed at fire fighting raging outrage as news filtered through that injured Warriors’ players were footing their own medial bills, ZIFA insisted that the impasse did not happen and was in fact a social media fabrication.
The Warriors remain focused ahead of the AFCON opener, ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said.
“ZIFA would like to reiterate that the Warriors have remained focused ahead of opening Group A match against Egypt on Friday (21 June 2019),” Gwesela said.
“Warriors have not ventured in any Industrial action or strike as reported in some social media circles.ZIFA and Warriors have signed a contract and both parties will honour and respect all contractual obligations.”
Gwesela dded “ZIFA values the welfare of players and shall never abdicate from its responsibilities.”
However, his words were soon dwarfed by those of Acting Sport minister Kazembe Kazembe.
“You have to play for those people who are home, especially President (Mnangagwa), who has been supporting your cause,” told Kazembe the state media.
“This is a national cause and some of the things you are raising we were not aware of them, but we have to find ways to ensure ZIFA addresses those issues.”
A top sports journalist who is with the team in Egypt said players threatened to boycott the AFCON opener against Egypt unless they each got US$9 000.
The players said they had been promised by ZIFA the money would reflect in their bank accounts by Tuesday.
He added that Thursday evening’s final training session was cancelled as the players were locked in a meeting with ZIFA officials and Kazembe.
The opening match of the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations between Egypt and Zimbabwe will kick off at 10pm at Cairo International stadium.
Meanwhile, the Warriors impasse has reached CAF’s attention Nigerian reporter Osasu Obayiuwana said.
“I am made to believe that Pinnick Amaju, the CAF 1st Vice-President had to plead with the Warriors not to boycott today’s opening match against Egypt,” he wrote on Twitter, adding:
“I understand that Pinnick Amaju who is the president of the AFCON organising committee is asking the Finance Department of CAF to release the balance of their appearance fee, so that outstanding player allowances are settled.”