The discontent in the Zimbabwe national team about accommodation and finances has been rumbling for a few days and has seemingly reached breaking point ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
The Warriors, who will be making their third appearance at the tournament proper in Gabon, refused to attend a send-off dinner on Friday night in Harare, leaving the country’s acting president Emmerson Mnangagwa with nobody to send off at the function.
By all accounts, coach Callisto Pasuwa’s squad are still waiting for monies owed from the qualifiers, and they’re also haggling for a $5,000 per match appearance fee for the Nations Cup. The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) are reportedly only offering half that, $2,500, per match.
The Warriors were meant to have started their journey to Gabon via Cameroon on Saturday morning, but are still in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. Further complicating the stand-off is that they are scheduled to meet Cameroon in a friendly international on Tuesday.
Despite all the issues, Zimbabwe captain Willard Katsande has confirmed that the team will take up their place in the tournament, their first since 2006.
“Obviously we are going to play, but it’s a matter of discussing, as we deserve better,” he told Star FM Zimbabwe. “We’re not asking for much, we know what want as a team, we submitted our proposal long back but nobody listened to us.”
Meanwhile, Zifa 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.
The Warriors begin their Africa Cup of Nations campaign against Algeria on Sunday, 15 January in Franceville, before further Group B fixtures against Senegal and Tunisia.