The Sunday Mail
WARRIORS’ interim coach Norman Mapeza has been ordered not to consider the quartet of Willard Katsande, Cuthbert Malajila, Nyasha Mushekwi and Mathew Rusike for national team assignments.
The classic case of chickens coming home to roost for players who led the Africa Cup of Nations send-off dinner snub is part of measures aimed at ensuring that “only patriotic players” wear that iconic gold strip.
Zifa were left in a sticky spot when the Warriors pulled the finger on a send off dinner that had then acting President Emmerson Mnangangwa as the guest of honour in January this year.
The players were protesting against the nonpayment of bonuses.
Zifa desperately tried to deregister the ring leaders of that mutiny from the Afcon team list but their efforts were turned down by the Confederation of African Football.
CAF argued it was too late to make changes.
However, The Sunday Mail has exclusively gathered that Katsande, Malajila, Mushekwi and Rusike have now been stuck with persona non grata tags by the Zifa leadership.
Mapeza will soon announce his squad for next month’s 2019 Afcon qualifier at home to Liberia but has been told to ignore the four, even “if they play at the level of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo”
“The message that was delivered to the coach and team manager Wellington Mpandare was clear and you can rest be assured that Malajila, Mushekwi, Rusike and Katsande will not be part of the squad that will be announced around May 25,” revealed a plugged -in source.
Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa was initially coy about delving into the matter in a wide ranging interview with this paper last week.
Chiyangwa only opened up when asked how the Warriors’ decision to snub the highest office in the land made life difficult for him.
“Snubbing the Acting President, a man who had just given us a million bucks, came with consequences and life was very difficult for me and my board.
“We had to explain ourselves to the nation’s leaders and that was not easy,” he said.
And without giving away names Chiyangwa confirmed that Mapeza has been instructed not to consider some “mercenaries.”
“There are players who will never, ever play for the national team during my tenure, in fact during my football life. I emphasise never, ever.
“They kissed goodbye to the national team when they snubbed the acting president. They sabotaged us and some of them even tried to beat up my vice president (Omega Sibanda).
“They taught us lessons and the coach has been debriefed accordingly. We have told him to use any other players but not these players who are full of nonsense.”
Meanwhile, Mapeza’s reign at the helm of the national team looks set to go beyond next month’s clash against the Lone Stars.
The Warriors are in Group G together with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Liberia and will have to win their group if they are to make a second consecutive appearance at the continental showcase.
Chiyangwa reckons Mapeza is the best gaffer Zimbabwe has, after Kallisto Pasuwa, and has backed the FC Platinum coach to tick the boxes on the national team bench.
“Norman Mapeza is the ideal coach for the national team,” he said.
“The guy played football at the highest level. Right now as we speak he is in Turkey playing for the Galatasaray legends.
“What we are doing is endorsing FC Platinum, we are saying Norman is a good coach and we are giving him an opportunity to prove himself on the international stage.”