Robson Sharuko, Harare Bureau
THE Warriors have said their acceptance of Zifa’s Z$30 000 (about US$1500) winning bonus, for the two 2021 Afcon qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia, show that they are not a group of individuals inspired by monetary gains.
Instead, the players say, this demonstrates their quest to do well for their country.
The players also hope this will remove the myth that they are a bunch of mercenaries, who are only concerned about reaping huge financial rewards, rather than flying their national flag with pride by winning matches.
This evening, the Warriors start another Afcon qualifying campaign with a date against the Zebras of Botswana at the National Sports Stadium at 6PM, and the senior national team players have been on a charm offensive to reach out to their fans to repair the bond of trust broken by that Egyptian nightmare.
It’s the first time that such key players like skipper Knowledge Musona and Aston Villa midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, will be playing for the team since that Nations Cup debacle.
“I think it’s very clear that our commitment to represent our country in the best way possible can never be doubted and that is why we have accepted what the Zifa officials have laid out on the table even though, when you look at the figures, it’s a far cry from what other teams earn,’’ said one of the players who chose not to be identified.
“Since we reported for camp, you guys have not even picked any reports that there were problems because we are all committed to burying the past because we acknowledge that, while we believe we were not wrong in Egypt, what happened there was not right for our image, the team as well as our country.
“Everyone learnt their lessons, we the players we picked some lessons, Zifa also picked some lessons, because we are a single unit and the only way we can succeed is when we pull in one direction and that means focusing more on what we can do on the pitch, because that’s what we know, rather than what happens outside the field.
“We are professionals and we have never said that our aim is to make money out of playing for our country, we get some decent salaries at our clubs and this is national service and we are proud to do it because, in life, there are more important things than money and nothing beats that of making an entire nation feel happy and proud.
“We talked to each other when the squad was named and we reminded each other that we owe the fans who have been very supportive of us, and the best way to repay them is to just concentrate on playing well for the Warriors, winning games, and even when we can’t win, we have to show that we gave it all that we had.
“There is a different mindset among the players right now and we want to open a new chapter because we all believe we can get back to the Afcon finals, our team is being strengthened by some new arrivals every day and it’s getting stronger and who knows, maybe we can go all the way to the World Cup.’’
The players signed the new contracts this week after their arrival in camp and the cash-strapped association, who have been battling serious financial challenges, have come up with a proposal that will guarantee the Warriors Z$30 000 in bonuses, per player, if they win the two opening Nations Cup qualifiers.
All the Warriors have agreed to the new pay structure, which translates roughly to Z$15 000 per player per win during the two games against Botswana, at the giant stadium this evening, and Zambia next Tuesday.
It’s an improved package from the one which Zifa had come up with in August ahead of the 2022 World Cup preliminary round qualifier against Somalia.
Zifa said they agreed to pay the players US$1 500, per game, in appearance fees, during their 2019 Afcon finals campaign with the other US$3 500 set to be secured from proceeds from the fund-raising committee, bringing the total to US$5 000 per player per game.
However, it represents vastly-reduced payments schedules for the Warriors who enjoyed what was termed the Arabian feast during the 2019 Afcon finals in Egypt in June.