Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
THE Warriors came very close to suffering a massive setback, ahead of their 2021 AFCON qualifier against Chipolopolo, when key central defender Teenage Hadebe was almost barred from entering Zambia on Sunday.

The 24-year-old Turkey-based defender has formed a formidable partnership with his Wales-based colleague Alec Mudimu in what has become the Warriors’ first-choice central defensive partnership. When Mudimu was ruled out by injury, in the final 2019 AFCON finals Group A game against the Democratic Republic of Congo, Hadebe struggled to adjust to playing alongside Lawrence Mhlanga and the Warriors crashed to a 0-4 humiliation.

When the duo was reunited in the AFCON qualifier against Botswana at the National Sports Stadium last Friday night, the Warriors again kept a clean sheet. However, The Herald can reveal Hadebe was almost barred from entering Zambia on Sunday, because of issues related to his passport, which would have thrown caretaker coach Joey Antipas’ plans into disarray.

Zambian Immigration officials were concerned about allowing Hadebe entrance into their country when virtually all the pages on his passport, which remains valid, had been used when he entered various countries.

“There were some problems when we arrived in Lusaka, they said I could not enter the country because all the pages on my passport had been used,” Hadebe told The Herald.

“I then called the team manager (Wellington Mpandare) to come and try and address the situation and after some negotiations, I was finally allowed to enter into Zambia.”

Hadebe featured prominently in the team’s 2-1 win over Chipolopolo, which breathed life into the Warriors’ 2021 AFCON campaign, after they had been pegged back by two points dropped at home in that goalless draw against Botswana. However, while all of his foreign-based teammates flew out of Lusaka to their various bases, after the match, Hadebe was forced to come back home to try and get a new passport.

He will remain holed up in Zimbabwe until next week.