Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ACTING Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kazembe Kazembe says the current generation of Warriors ranks as one of the finest groups of footballers to represent the country and they should make their mark at the 2019 AFCON finals.
The Warriors, who are set to leave for South Africa tomorrow for the COSAFA Cup, en-route to the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt next month, yesterday bade farewell to the nation during a send-off dinner arranged by the Government.
Guest of honour Kazembe, who also chairs the special Warriors fundraising committee, said these Warriors have already done their country proud in the past few years and should now consolidate that success story.
“My plea goes to the Warriors, whom Government holds in high esteem, urging them to put their nation first before everything else,’’ said Kazembe.
“Go and fight like the proverbial Warriors and bring back smiles onto the faces of Zimbabweans. The millions of Zimbabweans will be looking up to you to deliver the trophy to the door steps of Zimbabweans.
“We do not doubt your pedigree as you are probably one of the finest generations of footballers since 1963.
“You should represent your nation with unquestionable patriotism and above all excellence. Your dues shall be made available as agreed between yourselves and ZIFA and please go and give your best in Egypt.’’
Kazembe assured the national team players that all their needs were being taken care of by ZIFA and the Government.
He urged the Warriors to fly the country’s flag high despite being drawn in a tough group that includes hosts Egypt, DR Congo and Uganda.
The Warriors will begin their defence of the COSAFA title at the quarter-final stage this Saturday.
They are also using the regional tournament to fine-tune for the AFCON tournament which runs from June 21 to July 19 in Egypt.
Last night’s dinner was graced by invited guests, among them senior Government officials, sports administrators, members of the fund-raising committee, the Warriors and their technical team.
A minute of silence was observed in honour of sports personalities who perished during the year and the victims of Cyclone Idai which devastated parts of the country.
Kazembe said the dinner was a celebration of the Warriors’ fourth appearance at the AFCON finals as well as their first ever in the new dispensation.
“So special was the Warriors qualifications that the Head of State and Government, His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa saw it fit to appoint a National Fundraising Committee, some days ago,’’ said Kazembe.
“Government expects national teams to give their best once fully resourced. Government will not expect to hear stories of wild cat strikes, boycotts, and sit-ins by the Warriors.
“The same shall apply to other national teams doing duty for Zimbabwe in regional, continental and international tournaments as such conduct brings the name of Zimbabwe into disrepute.
“Our officers, as well as those from the Sports and Recreation, ZIFA and the Fundraising Committee shall work as a unit in ensuring that the national teams are properly resourced and that glitches, as was the practice in the past, would be a thing of the past.
“We want our national teams to be our ambassadors at mega events and as such the national teams should be resourced.
“The Fundraising Committee that was approved by President E.D Mnangagwa is made up of men and women of honour and unquestionable professionalism and it is hoped that they will be able to execute their mandate to the letter.
“Let me hasten to point out that fundraising for national teams shall be housed at Government level and shall not be an event, but a year round exercise. Beyond the Egypt adventure, we shall sit down, review our performance and chart the way forward in terms mobilising resources for national teams.
“Warriors — the nation is rallying behind you and please go and do us proud at COSAFA and the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations extravaganza.’’
ZIFA president Felton Kamambo said the Warriors should strive to repay the support demonstrated by Zimbabweans by doing well at both tournaments.
Kamambo also lavished praise on ZIFA’s “all-weather friend”, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance founder Walter Magaya, who is currently hosting the team at his luxurious Yadah Complex for free.
“Firstly, I would like to thank the Government, particularly the President for setting up the fundraising committee that is doing all the work behind the scenes to make sure that our team is well-resourced.
“We also want to thank all the members of the committee for accepting the responsibility. It’s such a huge task and we hope the committee will be able to work freely to the best of their abilities.
“We promise we will account for every cent from the money that is going to be raised for our team. Now that the whole country is behind the team, we urge the boys to go out there and do well.
“The only way they can repay such support is by winning games, even if it means winning both the COSAFA and AFCON tournaments,” said Kamambo.