By Eddie Chikamhi
After all the noise that has been made over the availability of the “British Brigade”, star forward Macauley Bonne was yesterday still to confirm if he will make the trip to Zimbabwe for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations football qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia.
Bonne, who had been struggling to get a Zimbabwean passport to enable him to play for the Warriors, finally got it last week along with Bolton Wanderers defender Adam Chicksen.
He was scheduled to leave England last night after featuring in Charlton’s 1-2 defeat to Millwall in the English Championship at the weekend but his management threw doubts on his itinerary.
Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare said they had done all the paperwork for his trip but were still to get the final position on his travel arrangements.
Apparently, the 24-year-old is reportedly facing pressure from his management to reconsider his position with Zimbabwe and pursue an ambition dream with England.
“We are still expecting Bonne to join camp for the AFCON qualifiers. He was supposed to catch his flight tonight (yesterday) but we have been in touch with his manager who has indicated there were some problems.
“We don’t know yet the nature of the problem, we are still to hear from him the final position regarding his travel arrangements,” said Mpandare.
Warriors caretaker coach Joey Antipas is likely to miss the majority of the “British Brigade” players for the opening two matches of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers.
ZIFA indicated they needed about US$4 700 to bring on each of the British Brigade players and then decided to drop the idea of bringing in 32 players because of the costs.
Leicester City forward Admiral Muskwe, Jordan Zemura of Bournemouth Under-21, Bolton Wanderers’ defender Adam Chicksen and Douglas Nyaupembe were among the England-based players affected.
They joined Tivonge Rushesha and Jonah Fabisch who pulled out earlier because of injury and club commitments.
As of yesterday, Cliff Moyo of Kidderminster Harriers was the only player who had realistic chances of making the trip to Zimbabwe. Moyo is expecting to get his passport today.
ZIFA last week also dropped Spain-based goalkeeper Martin Mapisa, Chicksen, Evans Rusike and CAPS United’s Phineas Bamusi.
The Warriors camp is expected to begin today. The trio of Terrence Dzvukamanja, Kuda Mahachi and Thabani Kamusoko were the early birds yesterday.
The majority of the South Africa-based players are expected today along with midfielder Marshall Munetsi, who plies his trade in France with Ligue 1 side Stade de Reims.
Marvelous Nakamba, who featured for Aston Villa in the English Premiership match against Wolves yesterday, is expected in tomorrow. Warriors skipper Knowledge Musona is the last player expected on Wednesday.
The Warriors technical team now expect 23 players in camp following the injury to Tino Kadewere, who picked up a hamstring injury during a French League 2 match on Friday night.
Mpandare said the coach has indicated there will not be a replacement.
He also explained that defender Chicksen asked to be excused for the forthcoming assignments because he is trying to convince English Football League One side Bolton Wanderers to give him a contract.
The 28-year-old left-back signed a brief loan deal with The Wanderers running from September to December and has so far featured in eight league games.
His team will be in action this Saturday against his childhood side MK Dons, just 24 hours after the Warriors have played Botswana. Zimbabwe play Botswana this Friday and then travel to Zambia for the second game four days later.
“As you know Chicksen has a short-term loan contract with Wanderers which ends in December so he is trying to secure his place in the team and probably nail down a new contract.
“So he cannot afford to come here at present. Mind you, their league will not stop during the FIFA international break. So if he comes here during that time he will miss a couple of games and chances of him getting a new contract will be affected. But now that he has a Zimbabwean passport, we don’t foresee any problems in the future,” said Mpandare.
Mistry Chipere of Zimbabwe Foreign Legion said some of the foreign-based players he has been in communication with were not aware they have been dropped since no official communication was done from ZIFA.
“ZIFA have done a very good job in conjunction with the authorities to secure passports for the boys. But, after all the noise that was made for the “British Brigade”, why is it that we are dropping some of these boys before they even kick the ball? It’s frustrating to the boys.
“Worse some of the guys have not been officially notified of the changes. Their clubs as well are in the dark. They are expecting these guys to go and represent their nation but ZIFA have not made official communication.
“These clubs are professional. They take some of these things seriously and it may be difficult for them to release the players in the future if we don’t show professionalism on our side.
“I think it was better to write back to them and explain the challenges we are facing at the moment so that we keep the doors open,” said Chipere.
Phillip Zulu, a UK-based Zimbabwean coach who is also heavily involved in scouting the “British Brigade” to play for Zimbabwe, was not also amused by the latest development.
“News reaching us about the invited players for the Zimbabwe national team for the Botswana and Zambia fixtures for the 2021 AFCON qualifier, makes some sad reading and a serious case of a failed administration that has continuously destabilised our football operations and function.
“Professional clubs in Europe received these invitation letters so that these players can be released for the FIFA calendar programme but, shockingly, the very same players are unaware of the BOMBSHELL that has been set by the ZIFA Technical Department, who have dropped them without writing to the clubs.
“Basically, ZIFA is alleged to have dropped all those players from abroad known as the “British Brigade” they have been dumped and in typical decadence ZIFA style — NO NOTICE SERVED.
“How do you explain this situation to most young players who still feel that they’re part of the wider nationhood of where their parents come from? Such insensitivity is a dangerous precedent for the future development of our game when we seriously need their services and they could possibly decline anything to do with Zimbabwean football as it is run by despots in ZIFA.
“Cry the beloved country, we have a very difficult ZIFA Technical Director who is on a mission to destroy the beautiful game for his narrow interests of parading the so-called “home grown” players.
“One day God will break this cartel and indeed, they shall pay the highest price of arrogance when decent folks take over,” Zulu said from his base in Leeds, England, yesterday. The Herald
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze, Simbarashe Chinani, Talbert Shumba
Defenders: Alec Mudimu, Cliff Moyo, Teenage Hadebe, Devine Lunga, Ian Nekati, Partson Jaure, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Kelvin Moyo.
Midfielders: Marvellous Nakamba, Marshall Munetsi, Ovidy Karuru, Butholwezi Ncube, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Thabani Kamusoko
Strikers: Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, Macauley Bonne, Knox Mtizwa, Prince Dube