Friday Nov 15, 2019. 10:00
Zimbabwe’s players are focussed on their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations campaign and have dismissed suggestions they are “mercenaries” in the wake of the money row that erupted at the last finals in Egypt earlier this year.
Reports suggested The Warriors players had threatened to go on strike over unpaid bonuses and match allowances during the tournament as the side exited meekly in the first round.
Some of them have paid for that with non-selection by new coach Joey Antipas, but as they prepare to face Botswana in their opening qualifier on Friday, one unnamed player has hit back at suggestions the players are greedy.
“I think it’s very clear that our commitment to represent our country in the best way possible can never be doubted and that is why we have accepted what the ZIFA officials have laid out on the table even though, when you look at the figures, it’s a far cry from what other teams earn,” one player told The Herald on condition of anonymity.
“Since we reported for camp, you guys have not even picked any reports that there were problems because we are all committed to bury the past because we acknowledge that, while we believe we were not wrong in Egypt, what happened there was not right for the image of us, the team and our country.
“Everyone learnt their lessons, we the players we picked some lessons, ZIFA also picked some lessons, because we are a single unit and the only way we can succeed is when we pull in one direction and that means focusing more on what we can do on the pitch, because that’s what we know, rather than what happens outside the field.
“We are professionals and we have never said that our aim is to make money out of playing for our country, we get some decent salaries at our clubs and this is national service and we are proud to do it because, in life, there are more important things than money and nothing beats making an entire nation feel happy and proud.
“We talked to each other when the squad was named and we reminded each other that we owe the fans, who have been very supportive of us, and the best way to repay them is to just concentrate on playing well for the Warriors, winning games, and even when we can’t win, we have to show that we gave it all that we had.
“There is a different mindset among the players right now and we want to open a new chapter because we all believe we can get back to the AFCON finals, our team is being strengthened by some new arrivals every day and it’s getting stronger and who knows, maybe we can go all the way to the World Cup.”
Zimbabwe are expected to ease past a limited Botswana side at home.