Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ENGLAND-BASED forward Macauley Bonne’s failure to acquire documents that could have made him eligible to play for Zimbabwe at the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations football finals has divided opinions. Bonne’s agent Mathew Harford this week launched a scathing attack on ZIFA, blaming the association for being “incompetent” after the forward was left out of the 23-member squad announced by coach Sunday Chidzambwa last week.
The Leyton Orient star has been struggling to obtain a Zimbabwean passport to enable him to feature for the Warriors because of recent changes to the Citizenship Act which now requires all Zimbabweans born outside the country to renounce their adopted citizenship before they get a local passport.
Bonne was born in Ipswich 23 years ago and made his international debut for Zimbabwe as a fresh-faced teenager in 2014 with the national Under-23 side.
But he has been dragging his feet when it came to getting his papers to play for Zimbabwe despite repeated pleas by ZIFA.
The forward finally submitted his documents to the Zimbabwe Embassy in England two months ago, but his case was already complicated because of changes in the Citizenship law.
His agent Harford drew a lot of criticism on Twitter when he suggested that Zimbabwean football officials have been lethargic in pushing for the player’s papers.
“The sheer incompetence of @online_zifa & #Zimbabwe officials handling the @MBonne9 passport is staggering. We filed documentation over 2 months ago. Despite our best efforts, the negligence of unnamed individuals has disappointed fans & players alike! #AFCON Embarrassing!” he posted on Twitter. Marshall Gore, the chief executive of Team Zimbabwe UK, who was behind Bonne’s passport application through the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, also expressed his disappointment over the latest development.
“I’m so disappointed that Macauley Bonne won’t be representing Zimbabwe at the Afcon despite all our hard work to make this possible. His passport has not been secured on time by the responsible officials. The player is heartbroken and devastated by this outcome. He was so much looking forward to carry the #ZW???? badge with honour in Egypt. What a loss to the Nation,” Gore wrote on his Facebook wall yesterday.
Warriors coach Chidzambwa had indicated he was leaving the door open for Bonne ahead of the AFCON tournament.
However, the player failed to meet the CAF deadline on Tuesday.
Most of the Twitter users yesterday responded to Harford’s comments with anger. They said Bonne should not blame anyone for delaying his passport application.
“Where does a sporting institution come in when an individual wishes to change his citizenship? Tendayi Darikwa managed to get his papers in order well in time to play the qualifiers. Bonne started playing for Zim in 2014. You get guts to blame someone. Shame on you,” tweeted one user.
Brighton Chiwola shared the same sentiments.
“Bonne made his debut more than 3 yrs ago, but you guys only submitted his passport application 2 months ago; like seriously? Where was the urgency during the qualifiers?”
Francis Musara tweeted: “You guys are not serious at all you are now blaming ZIFA yet you were reluctant to process his documents. Just imagine Tendai Darikwa managed to secure his documents in time and played qualifying matches but you were waiting for AFCON time.”
“Dude we got Tendayi Darikwa how did he get his passport if ZIFA is to blame? You boy is on holiday now when he should be busy following up his passport. We qualified as group winners without him and we won’t even feel his absence,” said Dylan Choto.
Former Warriors forward Matthew Rusike, who was part of the last AFCON campaign, said the Warriors can still do without Bonne in Egypt.
“This Tweet doesn’t want my diplomatic smoke.. We have a strong squad and will be just fine #WARRIORS.”
“If Bonne was called up for Afcon why did he not show up for training with the rest of the squad for Cosafa Tourney? He would have had his issue dealt with whilst he is on the ground. Besides, which coach will abandon players who secured him a place at Afcon over late a gate crusher,” tweeted @realtreck7.
“Let us in what happened. Surely you should take some of the blame too. Macca didn’t show up at the qualifies when he was needed most so if he wants to be a #Warrior he can going the team at the next AFCON & World Cup qualifiers,” added Reginald Kastigu.
Bonne had a brilliant run with Orient in the last two campaigns and helped them gain promotion into the EFL League Two with more than 20 goals in back-to-back seasons. He tweeted on May 14 that he expected he would travel to Egypt to be part of the Zimbabwe squad to compete in the Africa Cup of Nations. There was hope he would get special dispensation from the Government and receive a passport in time to be involved in the competition but that was not to be.