Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
JUST when it seemed all gloomy in their camp, the Warriors heaved a huge sigh of relief last night when Prophetic Healing Deliverance Ministries bailed them out and injected a cool R560 000 for their 2015 COSAFA Cup campaign.
The Warriors preparations have been shambolic, with apathy of players at training and lack of resources characterising their camp.
But much to their relief, PHD Ministries founder Prophet Walter Magaya answered to ZIFA’s SOS and announced during a mid-week Church service attended by the Warriors, and ZIFA officials that he would pay for the senior national team’s travel to South Africa, their upkeep and camping expenses.
Magaya, who also prayed for the senior team ahead of their COSAFA Cup adventure, is understood to have pledged to give each player $1 500 should they return home with the silverware on May 31.
The Warriors, whose journey was until last night still shrouded in uncertainty, will now fly out to Johannesburg tomorrow morning from where they will connect to the venue of the tournament — the North West Province.
Zimbabwe, joint COSAFA Cup record holders with Zambia, will plunge into battle on Sunday with a date against Mauritius at Moruleng Stadium before they meet Seychelles at the same venue two days later.
The Warriors will then complete their group assignments with a clash against Namibia’s Brave Warriors on May 22 and should they win that pool, they will face old enemies and 2013 champions Zambia in the quarter-finals.
But thanks to the gesture by PHD, a silver lining in the dark cloud that has been hovering over cash-strapped ZIFA — Magaya just like he did with the Mighty Warriors — came to the rescue of the beleaguered association.
The Warriors, whose preparations also moved a gear up with the arrival of SuperSport United goalkeeper George Chigova from South Africa and more local players from Hwange, Harare and Triangle were now two-men short of completing their 20-man squad.
It also emerged last night that the senior team’s technical crew were making frantic efforts to convince Dynamos to release midfielder Ronald Chitiyo for the tournament as well as looking for a centre-back to replace FC Platinum’s Kelvin Moyo who is unavailable.
But there is no doubting that the Cinderella story in the Warriors camp last night was the major boost they received from Magaya which will ensure that there will be no haggling over allowances and bonuses during the COSAFA Cup campaign. ZIFA communications spokesman Xolisani Gwesela last night paid glowing tribute to Magaya who he said had become a strategic partner and friend of national teams.
“We are extremely grateful t0 the man of God for his generosity. He has become a key partner for football, especially our national teams.
“He has bailed the Mighty Warriors out before and now he has come in handy at our time of need. We hope that other stakeholders will take a leaf from the Prophet and come to the rescue of our national teams.
“We have always maintained that the responsibility of funding the national teams is not ZIFA’s alone, it’s for every patriotic Zimbabwean and we have a lot of commitments for our national teams this year for which we will need assistance,’’ Gwesela said.
Gwesela revealed that ZIFA had also accumulated a debt at the lodge where the Warriors have been staying since their camp began on Monday but indicated that the financial injection from Magaya would cater for that as it was included in the budget they had submitted to the PHD Ministries founder.
Before attending the PHD Church service, the Warriors played a warm-up game against FC Platinum at Gwanzura in a match which coach Callisto Pasuwa said had helped expose some of their weak areas.
Pasuwa said although the Warriors had been drubbed 5-1 by a Platinum side that had initially come to Harare for the abortive Independence Cup final replay against Dynamos, he was not reading much into the result as he was focusing on getting such players like Douglas Sibanda, Thomas Magorimbo and Raphael Manuvire to warm up to the challenge of playing for the national team.
“Today was our first full training so you can understand some of the mistakes the players were making as they try to gel. In such games it is not about the result, but achieving the combinations that you want and getting the basics right and I think these guys are fast getting there,’’ Pasuwa said.