Govt not keen on Europe-based players: Mpandare

HARARE - Warriors’ manager Wellington Mpandare, has accused government of taking a backseat by not helping them tie down British players of Zimbabwean descent who have been called in to join the squad.

Zimbabwe face Congo Brazzaville next month in an African Cup of Nations Qualifier (Afcon) and coach Sunday Chidzambwa included in his 28-man squad Tendayi Darikwa, Adam Chicksen both based in England and Germany-based Kelly Lunga.

With the date to resume camp fast approaching and no paper work for the British brigade having been done, Mpandare has raised concerns at the way the government through the ministry of Sports have ignored their plea.

“We expect the players to come into camp on 2nd September especially for those that would have played on a Friday or Saturday. Then obviously some will play on the second which will be on a Sunday and by Monday everyone should be in camp. We expect to be in camp from Monday up to about Thursday when we will then leave for Congo Brazzaville,” Mpandare said.

“It’s very tricky and difficult (intentions to have the trio in Zimbabwe). We have included Darikwa and Chicksen with the hope that we would get their passports. We will try and push the government to assist because so far nothing has been forthcoming . . . but at the end of the day we are not giving up. We will push them and we hope the minister this time around will do something.

“The reason why we have included these players on that list is that we want to try and push the government so that they can help us get the passports… we have been let down by the minister of Sports because I thought maybe now that he has a stand-alone ministry…the minister should be spot on. He should help in cases like these but unfortunately, we have not been getting help from anyone.”

The manager said he has written to the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) as per minister’s request but still he is yet to find any joy.

“We wrote a letter to SRC sometime back and I was told the letter was then sent to the Registrar General’s office but it’s like they were in the dark. It’s a bit complicated as it is, but we hope we will get the passports for the players,” he added.

“I tried engaging the minister on the 1st of February this year. I was supposed to have a meeting with him but unfortunately he got busy. I kept enquiring with him and that’s when he told me to follow protocol by writing to SRC which we did and unfortunately the response that we got from SRC was that the letter was sent to the RG’s office.

“And from the RG’s office there’s no joy, they don’t seem to know what is happening so at the end of the day there’s nothing happening on the ground. I’m sure the minister should do something because it’s his ministry and he should help in as far as passports are concerned.”

He added that the technical staff would have to make do with other players that have passports as they seem to be headed for a dead-end.

“With other countries like Nigeria, they go to England to look for players that are eligible to play for Nigeria and they get passports while they are still in Nigeria. Here the players have been coming here, remember Darikwa and the other guys came when we played Lesotho and Namibia, they (officials) were not bothered about them,” he said.

“But with other countries - before even the player flies to the country he’s given a passport. Even some of them not born in Nigeria, the first thing that they get is a passport. But in Zimbabwe it’s different. These players want to be associated with their country, they want to come and play in Zimbabwe.

“As you can see we have called in 28 players, we have a back-up (plan) and remember they are other players like Knox Mutizwa who are actually knocking on the door for national team call-ups. So obviously, we are covered. If they don’t get the passports then we will go with those that we have because they are the only ones that don’t have passports- Lunga, Darikwa and Chicksen.”

SRC spokesperson Tirivashe Nheweyembwa commenting on the issue said there was no impasse and invited Mpandare for a round table.

“Firstly there is no impasse as he would like to put it and secondly I think…Mpandare has to visit our office so that we explain to him how the process works,” Nheweyembwa told the Daily News yesterday.

“He must appreciate that ours is a support letter and we don’t dictate how things are done at the RG’s office and also we don’t have a letter from him save for the one we have in May and he didn’t come to collect it and we ended up sending it to the RG’s office.”

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