The Sunday Mail
UNDER normal circumstances, Turkey-based Warriors defender Teenage Hadebe would have been allowed time off by his club to fly back home to be with his newly-born twins, Alwande and Lwandile, who were delivered in Bulawayo recently.
Hadebe, who turns out for Super Lig side Yeni Malatyaspor, is holed up in Malatya — a city in east-central Turkey — as the country has banned the majority of flights due to Covid-19 which had killed four people by Friday in the European country.
Over 350 cases of coronavirus have also been recorded in Turkey, where President Recep Tayvip Erdogan unveiled a 100 billion lira (US$15,4 billion) plan last week to help businesses sail through the economic storm caused by the pandemic. The country’s sports authorities finally bowed to pressure and suspended the top-flight league last Thursday following incessant calls by FifPro. The deadly virus, which has led to a suspension of major sporting events in the world, has impacted on Hadebe and a host of his Warriors teammates dotted around the globe.
Ordinarily, this is the week they should have been re-grouping to resume their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification bid with back-to-back Group H clashes against Algeria on March 26 and March 29.
But all that has now been put on hold.
Hadebe, however, says he is “very safe” in Turkey but has not had the joy of holding his twins.
“As I am talking to you now, the airports are closed, so we cannot even travel back home to be with our families.
“I am worried about people back home in Zimbabwe. I am worried about my family. I would have loved to be with my newly-born twins but I cannot,” lamented Hadebe.
“Although I am safe here, sometimes you feel it is better to be with your family in a moment of crisis like this. If you are to die, then it is better you die in your own country,” Hadebe said.
Midfielder Marshal Munetsi is in France, where he turns out for Reims, a French Ligue 1 team based in the north-eastern region of Grand Est, which by Friday night had recorded 2 643 cases and 61 deaths.
Like his teammates, he also been affected by the lockdown. “As you know, our league has been put on hold to focus on what is more important, which is the people’s health.
“As for myself, I am okay. I am following the instructions we are getting from the medical personnel here. I guess that should also apply to everyone else back home in Zimbabwe, please listen to instructions,” pleaded Munetsi.
“There is no activity here, we are mostly staying indoors.” Hotshot Le Havre striker Tino Kadewere, who had scored 20 goals before the French Ligue 2 was suspended, stays in the Normandy region where at least 240 cases of coronavirus had been recorded by yesterday morning. Although the former Harare City player did not respond to enquiries by The Sunday Mail Sport, he has been in constant contact with his brother Prosper, who confirmed the dreadlocked striker was “safe and sound”.
Two players from Ligue 2 side Troyes became the first French footballers to test positive for coronavirus last week. France recorded 78 more deaths from the coronavirus late Friday, taking the death toll in that nation to 450.
By yesterday, France had recorded a total of 12 612 cases. Also based in Europe are Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba, Admiral Muskwe, Tendai Darikwa and Macauley Bonne (United Kingdom), Knowledge Musona (Belgium) and Alec Mudimu, who is plying his trade in Moldova. The United Kingdom had 3 983 cases and 177 deaths confirmed by yesterday afternoon, while Belgium had 2257 cases and 37 deaths.
There are 49 confirmed cases and one death in Moldova where Mudimu plays for Sheriff Tiraspol. Bonne’s uncle, Paul Bunce, who is based in Great Yarmouth in the UK, told The Sunday Mail Sport he was in constant contact with the Charlton Athletic striker.
“Yes, (I am talking to him) and he is fine. But everybody is going mad, buying all the food and stocking,” said Bunce.
The ABSA Premiership in South Africa is home to 29 Zimbabwean players, including seven players who were recently named by Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic in the squad that was set to play Algeria.
South Africa has recorded at least 200 coronavirus cases, with the first ones noticed in the Free State province, where Ronald Pfumbidzai’s club Bloemfontein Celtic are based.
The former CAPS United left-back returned home last Friday. “Everything is fine, I came back home yesterday (Friday). I am safe at home,” Pfumbidzai said yesterday.
Former Warriors skipper and Kaizer Chiefs strongman, Willard Katsande, who is based in Johannesburg, revealed that the club’s doctors were constantly monitoring Amakhosi players.
“People are in danger here, it is scary,” moaned Katsande.
Johannesburg is in Gauteng province where at least 109 cases had been recorded by yesterday.
“We are being checked daily by the doctors, we have to listen to whatever advice they give us. I also hope everyone is safe in my beloved country (Zimbabwe),” Katsande said.
Golden Arrows left-back, Divine Lunga, has also kept himself indoors since the outbreak.
“Everyone is scared of the virus, my brother. We are always indoors watching TV and listening to updates on the virus,” said the highly rated 24-year-old defender, who is also being linked with a move to 2016 CAF Champions League champions, Mamelodi Sundowns.
Arrows, who are based in Durban, are also home to three other Zimbabwean players — Edmore Sibanda, Danny Phiri and Knox Mtizwa. Durban is the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal province which, according to South African reports, had recorded 24 cases by late Friday.
It is also the busiest port in South Africa.
“But for now we are safe and just waiting to hear from the officials on when the ABSA Premiership will resume,” Lunga said.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) insists that all forms of football in South Africa should be suspended, despite assertions by the Sports Ministry early last week that the game could continue in empty stadiums.
Khama Billiat and Willard Katsande (Kaizer Chiefs), Clive Augusto and Gabriel Nyoni (Maritzburg United), Edmore Sibanda, Divine Lunga, Danny Phiri, Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows), Onisimor Bhasera, Kuda Mahachi and Evans Rusike (SuperSport United) and Ovidy Karuru (Stellenbosch) are all based in South Africa.
McClive Phiri, Terrence Dzukamanja, Douglas Mapfumo and Farai Madhanaga (Bidvest Wits), Tapuwa Kapini and Tendai Ndoro (Highlands Park), Pfumbidzai, Elvis and Kelvin Moyo (Chippa United), Elvis Chipezeze and Rodwell Chinyengetere (Baroka FC) are also playing south of the Limpopo.
George Chigova, Charlton Mashumba and Walter Musona (Polokwane), Butholezwe Ncube and Talent Chawapiwa (AmaZulu) complete the 28-man list of Zimbabwean players in the ABSA Premiership.