By Tadious Manyepo
Warriors defender Qadr Amini was left a dejected lot after his substitution with less than three minutes into the CHAN Group A dead rubber against Mali on Sunday night for health reasons.
Zimbabwe went into this match needing a victory to restore their pride having already been booted out of the tournament following losses in their opening two games against hosts Cameroon and Burkina Faso.
The Warriors couldn’t find the magic though and still went in to lose 0-1 to the compact Malians on Sunday night.
But all attention was on the abnormally early substitution of Amini who became the first Zimbabwean player to be replaced with barely three minutes into a match at the CHAN tournament.
The Ngezi Platinum Stars utility man was trending yesterday with several people convinced he was pulled out for in-discipline after he had taken a free-kick ahead of designated taker Tatenda Tavengwa moments earlier.
But it has since emerged that Amini was substituted for health reasons.
The former Gunners, How Mine, FC Platinum and Dynamos man had missed the first two games against Cameroon and Burkina Faso at the CHAN tournament due to an undisclosed illness.
And coach Zdravko Logarusic had been given the go-ahead by the Warriors medical team to use him in the match against Mali to which he picked him ahead of captain Ian Nekati in an attacking formation.
“Amini (Qadr) had some infection from the time the Warriors arrived in Cameroon. He was ruled out of the match against Cameroon and Burkina Faso due to that infection,” said a source.
“The team’s medical staff had, however, cleared him to play in the dead rubber match against Mali. The coach drafted him in and everything was going on well until about two minutes into the match when suddenly the electronic board reflected he was to be substituted for captain Ian Nekati.”
Reports suggests that ZIFA leadership sent a Whatsapp text massage to a member of the technical team instructing them to rest Amini and avoid complicating his health “just to win a dead rubber match.”
The technical team, led by Loga obliged, and Amini, who by then was enjoying the night, looked so much confused as he didn’t have any hint on why he had been taken off so early.
“Yes, I had some infection which I am unfortunately not comfortable to share. That’s why I missed the first two matches against Cameroon and Burkina Faso.
“I was so happy when the coach told me that I had been cleared to play in our last game against Mali.
“I was enjoying myself in the pitch and I was surprised when the fourth official hoisted the electronic substitution board indicating that I was the man who was to be replaced.
“At first I thought maybe it was a mistake and maybe it was someone who had been injured. Still in that confused state I walked out and my mind was spinning.
“It was only explained later to me that the reason I had been substituted was to keep me safe. But safe from what?
“I was pained and I am still in pain. Just imagine that I had been cleared to play by the doctors only to be pulled out because I could be hurt. Well, that’s part of football but I wanted to play since I had missed the opening two games.”
Amini spent more than a year on the sidelines between 2018 and mid-2019 on the sidelines after suffering a horrific knee injury. He bounced back with a bang though and was vital to Rodwell Dhlakama’s fine run in the league as well as in the Chibuku Super Cup which the Mhondoro side lost in the final against Highlanders.
Amini was picked in the initial provisional squad for CHAN in November last year and was one of the few players who survived Logarusic’s perplexing chopping and changing spate ahead of the tournament. The Herald