The Zimbabwe national team are nicknamed “The Warriors” but Monomotapa United FC are now known as “The Pretenders”.
This Fifa-endorsed A-international match between Malaysia and ‘Zimbabwe’ has serious implications especially for the Africans.
In a bizarre twist, the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) claimed their Malaysian counterparts — the FA of Malaysia — were aware of the Zimbabweans sending last year’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions Monomotapa United FC to Kuala Lumpur.
In a series of emails to Mailsport yesterday, NewZimbabwe.com editor Mduduzi Mathuthu confirmed speaking to ZIFA CEO Henrietta Rushwaya who said: “The Malaysian FA was made aware that Zimbabwe was sending the local football champions.”
Mathuthu stressed Rodewell Dhlakama is not the Zimbabwean national coach and that the national team players are all in Zimbabwe.
“In fact, Monomotapa do not have any players in our starting lineup for the national team,” added Mathuthu.
Ironically, FAM had earlier rejected Liberia after finding out they were unable to send their national team. Zimbabwe sent Monomotapa United with FAM reportedly picking up the bill and paying an appearance fee.
“The whole episode is shameful. There are serious questions facing football authorities in Zimbabwe and Malaysia. If the FA of Malaysia cancelled Liberia because they were not bringing their first team, how then do they go and get a team lying ninth in the Zimbabwean league?” Mathuthu questioned.
FAM’s Datuk Azzudin Ahmad painted a different picture.
“As far as we are concerned it is the Zimbabwe national team. The acceptance letter even bore the letterhead of their national association (ZIFA),” added Azzudin.
Mailsport learnt that Rushwaya, in both a letter and an email to FAM, confirmed that Zimbabwe would be sending their national team.
The misrepresentation has cost FAM a bomb. Flight tickets from Harare to Singapore for the team of 20 is estimated at about RM200,000. The bus ride from Singapore to KL is about RM1,200, thus making it RM2,400 for a return journey. The team stayed at a hotel. The stimulus room package sees a double occupancy room costing RM280 per night. That translates to RM11,200 for 10 rooms over four nights. So, this would have cost FAM about RM215,000.
FAM could have been awarded discounted prices for the above rates while it remains unclear if FAM are indeed paying an appearance fee to their guests.
Monomotapa United, nicknamed Monoz, could face sanctions when they return home. According to the NewZimbabwe.com report — ‘Monoz Malaysia trip controversy’ — PSL secretary- general Kennedy Ndebele insisted the club’s trip was not approved.
Monomotapa were supposed to play Highway in a PSL match on Saturday.
“As far as we are concerned we didn’t allow Monomotapa not to fulfil their fixture against Highway at Sakubva…we only learnt in the newspapers that they travelled to Malaysia,” Ndebele said.