HARARE – Zifa’s announcement this week that seven more players had been cleared of any wrongdoing in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal came as welcome relief to national side coach Rahman Gumbo, but the announcement further highlighted the need to bring the scam to its finality once and for all.
Upon the release of the list, coach Gumbo immediately added six of the players to the Warriors’ provisional squad for the crucial African Nations Cup qualifier away to Angola next week.
Yes, the inclusion of six players should be celebrated by all patriotic Zimbabweans because it boosts our chances of qualifying for next year’s African Nations Cup finals in South Africa.
The Warriors coaches have been having headaches over the goalkeeper crisis in the team following the injury to first choice goalie and team captain Tapuwa Kapini.
Kapini’s deputy, Marlon Jani, has also been ruled out of the blockbuster tie due to illness while former Dynamos stopper Washington Arubi, who could have easily fitted in as cover, is still barred under Asiagate.
With all due respect to the other keepers, such as Highlanders’ Ariel Sibanda and young Dynamos stopper George Chigova, the game in Luanda is not for the faint-hearted. We need to go into battle with experienced and proven warriors, especially in critical positions such as goalkeeping and defence.
It therefore came as no surprise when the Warriors technical staff recalled the forgotten pair of Energy Murambadoro and Ephraim Mazarura as cover following their Asiagate amnesty.
Similarly, the Warriors have been struggling for goals upfront in recent matches, wit Germany-based kingpin Knowledge Musona the only one in the team who seems to know the right shooting boots to put on.
Therefore, the pardoning of Cuthbert Malajila, Kingstone Nkhata and Edward Sadomba, who have all been scoring regularly for their respective clubs outside the country, is a great relief.
Yet, it is the manner in which these players have been cleared by the Asiagate Ethics Committee which raises eyebrows.
It appears to us Zifa, in a desperate measure to guarantee qualification, has used unorthodox means to arm-twist the probe and secure the release of players before the Asiagate report is made public.
Zifa president Cuthbert Dube claims the timing of the announcement is coincidental, insisting that the Ethics Committee is independent in the true sense of the word.
Whatever the case may be, the way Zifa has handled the matter, where players are cleared way ahead of time and others who might equally deserve pardoning, does not paint a picture of professionalism at Zifa House. – Staff writer