Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA has apologised for the Warriors’ elimination from the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, but brushed aside criticism of travel arrangements that saw Ghana arriving in Zimbabwe while their hosts were holed up in Ethiopia.
The Warriors arrived in Harare from their loss to Ghana in Cape Coast 14 hours after the Black Stars had touched down in Harare.
In fact, the Ghana squad slept in Harare on Sunday night, while the Warriors spent the night in Ethiopia.
The national association said the insinuation that there were no adequate preparations for the two legs was incorrect and saluted the Warriors’ commitment to the country more than the result.
“Zifa has received numerous inquiries from stakeholders on why Ghana arrived in Zimbabwe earlier than our own Warriors after the first-leg. Their fear was that Zifa had probably not prepared adequately for the two matches.
While Ghana flew directly from Ghana to Harare on a government funded chartered flight, our Warriors used a commercial flight secured using the association’s resources.
The flight route used by the Warriors to travel from Accra to Harare was the fastest on the earliest possible flight. For the first-leg in Ghana, players travelled directly to the match venue to reduce travel distances, which would have affected their preparedness for the match,” said Zifa in a statement yesterday.
Zifa said it took full responsibility for the Warriors’ failure to progress to the elimination stage of the World Cup qualifiers irrespective of “several impediments that further complicated the journey”.
It said all stakeholders must support the players and desist from insulting them, the Zifa secretariat and technical team, arguing that they gave it their all, albeit in a losing cause.
“It is this commitment to their country that we salute more than the result. To suggest therefore that the team was not committed is grossly unfair to this dedicated group, which aspired to do well for its beloved nation. We are proud of the Warriors’ performances despite lack of positive results. Their commitment was clear.
“Zifa sincerely apologises to all football stakeholders for the senior national team’s back-to-back losses to Ghana and elimination from the Fifa World Cup 2022 qualifiers. We fully understand the disappointment that comes with every unfavourable result from national teams because we know just how much Zimbabweans love and support their team.”
Zifa said in spite of the elimination, it believes that positive results will come soon because “we are confident that the technical team and players have what it takes to beat the best teams on the continent on a good day”.
Zifa said the final two World Cup qualifiers will be used to prepare for the Afcon finals.
Meanwhile, Caf stadium inspector, Tshegofatso Moiloa, yesterday inspected the National Sports Stadium and will wind up his inspection today.
Results of the inspection will determine the stadium’s suitability to host the Warriors’ World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia next month, Zifa announced in a tweet.