This year’s Afcon opener is being played at 22:00 hours tonight between our Zimbabwean team, The Warriors, and the Egyptian Team, The Phaorohs. However, for the past 24 hours football was probaly not the first thing on the Zimbabwean team’s minds.
Like everyone else in Zimbabwe, the national team’s football players have not been spared the economic pain the country is going through. Although there was relief when ZIFA was able to send them to Egypt for Afcon finals without incident things changed.
The Warriors threatened to boycott the match with Egypt unless they were paid their outstanding monies. ZIFA reportdly owed each player about US$9 000 (RTGS$ 92 000 at current black market rates). In addition several players such as Tafadzwa Kutinyu, Walter Musona and Ovidy Karuru had ended up meeting their medical bills.
Eventually, the government and the team were able to come to an understanding. The Warriors captain Knowledge Musona said it was sad that 24 hours before the match their minds were on anything but football:
We are glad that our issues have been dealt with in this meeting and we have received the commitment that our dues will be dealt with and we can promise you that we will play the match against Egypt.
It’s sad that instead of us focusing on the match we have spent a lot of time trying to deal with these issues but we can promise you that we will give it our best tomorrow.
It was all probably deliberate
These days the government and its various institutions are in trouble with all their employees who are feeling the effects of its austerity measures and the tanking economy.
It’s almost certain the national football team deliberately waited until the spot light was on them and they had leverage before embarking on this job action.
Delta did the same not so long ago when they threatened to charge their iconic beverages in US dollars. The RBZ promptly intervened and “rescued” them.