By Paul Mundandi
Warriors team manager Sharif Mussa yesterday issued a public apology on behalf of the players for the debacle that characterised the failed send off dinner on Friday night.
Mussa saw off the bulk of the Warriors as they left for Cameroon yesterday via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a friendly match against the Indomitable Lions.
The match is scheduled for 8pm tomorrow.
The Warriors had been billed for a high-profile send off dinner that was to be graced by Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the Rainbow Towers.
That event had to be called off after the impasse between ZIFA and the players, which had been simmering all week, finally came to a boiling point with the Warriors snubbing an invitation to the dinner as they demanded that the association needed to settle the issue of their outstanding bonuses and allowances.
Spirited efforts by the ZIFA leadership to try and persuade the players to come from their rooms and join the rest of the invited guests yielded very little success and in the end the dinner, which had been organised by the Ministry of Sport and Recreation, became a non-event.
ZIFA were also forced to issue an apology to the Acting President and the nation for the embarrassing scenario.
The players, through their team manager Mussa, yesterday unreservedly apologised for their actions and the shame they had caused to the association and the local football fraternity Mussa said the Warriors had on reflection noted that they could have found better ways to press through their demands to the association.
The Warriors manager also pleaded with Zimbabweans to put behind the episode at the abortive dinner and unite to support their senior team ahead of the Group B campaign where they will face Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia in their bid to secure a place in the knock-out stage.
“No doubt the method with which how all this was done may not have been proper. On behalf of the team and everybody I do sincerely apologise to the nation and everybody concerned.
“I apologise to the Government, the stakeholders and everybody concerned. The way it happened should not have happened. We could have come up with a better way to resolve this. Once again, we are sorry, I am sorry on behalf of everyone on the way and the manner it all happened.
“We would like all Zimbabweans, everybody concerned and the Government to understand and forgive and rally behind us and support the team in every way possible.
“We are representing Zimbabwe and not individuals. I urge the nation to rally behind the Warriors, support us, have hope for us, pray for us in the best way you can. We need to carry the Zimbabwe flag high.
“It’s just that the manner it was conducted was not very good. It could have been better but nevertheless it could have been avoided, but it did happen,” said Mussa.
The Warriors were in a jovial mood as they prepared to leave via Addis Ababa yesterday afternoon.
Mussa also leapt the defence of his players and argued that pressing for their allowances and remuneration did not suggest the Warriors were mercenaries.
“We need to identify the meaning of the word mercenary in the dictionary first then we can take it from there and attach the meaning against the actions of the Zimbabwe Warriors. As their team manager what I know is that they were just asking for what they felt is what they should get pertaining to this qualification.
“We managed to finalise things. The players are here at the airport, we have to go with the players, and we have to be focused.
“The players are happy, they are professionals and they know what they want to do, how they have to focus, they know they are not just going to play a match, but they are playing at the biggest stage in Africa and they know what it means.
“They have to stay focused and exert the efforts of concentration towards this objective of participating and winning. We will try and go all the way to the final,” said Mussa. The Herald