By Robson Sharuko
Barely a month before the Warriors plunge into their battle against Malawi, where a victory could end a 10-year absence from Africa’s biggest football festival, Zimbabwean stars Knowledge Musona and Costa Nhamoinesu were given a rare treat in Paris yesterday as part of package of incentives to inspire them for the big game.
Musona, the Warriors’ talisman, and Nhamoinesu — the defensive pillar who has developed into the team’s leader in the current 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers with some spellbinding performances – were taken on a shopping spree by Zifa partner Wicknell Chivayo in an exclusive shopping district of the French capital.
Chivayo, who said he is in Paris on private business, invited the duo from their bases in Belgium and the Czech Republic and spoiled them on a shopping spree where the businessman said he spent $10,000 on each of the two players.
The businessman was charmed by Musona after the forward converted a cheeky penalty, known as the panenka in world football, to give the Warriors the lead in their 2017 Nations Cup qualifier against Swaziland at the National Sports Stadium on Easter Monday.
Chivayo, who has poured more than $600,000 into the Zifa coffers since announcing he would help fund the game’s activities in support of Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, who inherited a bankrupt association bleeding from debts reported to be around $7 million, gave Musona $1,000 after the match against Swaziland as a way of saluting the striker for his cheeky penalty.
The businessman also gave Nhamoinesu $1,000, after the game against Swaziland, having singled the Sparta Prague defender – who scored his first goal for the Warriors on home soil with a thunderous header on the back post — as his man-of-the-match reward.
The incentives was in addition to the money he handed to the entire team as a token of appreciation for their demolition of Sihlangu which helped the Warriors open a three-point lead, at the top of their group, with only two matches to play in the qualifying campaign.
Chivayo promised Musona and Nhamoinesu that he will visit them in Europe, before the game against Malawi on June 4 at the National Sports Stadium, to thank them for their “patriotism” where they continue to excel in the colours of their country.
“I promised the boys that I would visit them in Europe to thank them for their patriotism and commitment to their country and I’ve just fulfilled that by meeting them here in Paris and taking them for some shopping so that they get to understand that their efforts are being appreciated by some of us who really care for our country,” said Chivayo.
“The initial plan was that I would go and watch them play in their leagues, to give them some support, and then we come to Paris and we’ve been shopping today (yesterday) here and the boys are happy and that’s all that matters.
“It’s about inspiring them so that they understand that we’re together in this battle and I spent $10,000 on each of them in Paris today and you can see that they feel loved and this is what inspires players to do well for their countries.”
Chivayo has also promised Warriors’ skipper Willard Katsande that he will buy him a brand new car to thank him for his services to the nation and his leadership of the team which now stands on the brink of qualifying for the 2017 Nations Cup finals.
“All the players in the Warriors are special to me and I’m doing it one, or two, at a time and I want them to understand that they’re not alone when they wear that golden shirt because they’re representing our beautiful country and they cheer the spirits of our nation whenever they win,” said Chivayo.
“That’s why that promise that, should we qualify for the 2017 Afcon finals, they will share $250,000 as a team and that is an incentive for them to do well for our country because they’re our sporting ambassadors and, in Zimbabwe, football is the biggest game and they’re our biggest stars.”
The businessman unveiled a $1 million package, to help stabilise Zifa, which was supposed to be unlocked over three years but, just about five months into the deal, Chivayo has already injected more than $600,000 into the game with more than $180,000 going to pay Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet, who only coached the Warriors for a day.
Had Zifa failed to pay Saintfiet by the end of January, the Warriors would have been expelled from the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, as punishment by Fifa who also threw the senior national team out of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, without kicking a ball, after the Association failed to pay Brazilian coach Valinhos.
Musona has been one of the stars for his club Oostende, helping them into the championship play-offs where the six top teams battle for the championships, after scoring 12 goals for the club and turning them into a force that has battled against the best clubs in Belgium.
The Zimbabwe international, whose goals have been the heart and soul of some of the Warriors’ finest success stories in the past six years, is unlikely to win the Golden Boot in Belgium, which now appears to have been secured by Jeremy Perbet who has been on target 19 times.
Oostende are now unlikely to be crowned Belgian champions as they are off the pace, in the Championship Play-Offs, where they have won two games and drawn one of their six matches, with Club Brugge leading the way, but they could fight for a place in the Uefa Europa League. The Herald