Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
THE Warriors endured another horror day yesterday, with their trip to the Comoros hanging in the balance for most of the day, until Government intervened and made a commitment to charter a flight to the Indian Ocean island.
The team was scheduled to finally leave in the early hours today for Comoros and, just like what happened ahead of their 2017 Nations Cup qualifier against Malawi, will only arrive just a few hours before kick-off.
By 10pm last night, there was no specific time as to when the team was going to leave for the two-and-a-half hour flight aboard an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767 long haul passenger jet.
Late last night it was revealed that the team will now leave at 8am today, after Airzim had finalised all the logistics like having the cabin crew in place, cleaning the aircraft and issues related to landing costs.
Players, who spent the whole day at their lodge, had to be instructed later in the evening to catch some sleep by the Sports Commission officials so that they get some rest and would then be awakened when the flight was ready to leave.
Late yesterday, the Government gave their commitment to Airzim that they will pay for the chartered flight.
Then the sticking point became some flight logistics which were finally resolved as Airzim later availed a Boeing 767, which is a bigger aircraft than the Boeing 737 which they had initially offered.
Sports Commission official Daniel Kuvengwa, who was closely working with Patience Kabanda, as they ran around late into the evening after the supreme sports body took full charge of the trip, finally managed a breakthrough and said all was set for the trip.
“The team is definitely going to Comoros, but at what time we don’t know as we are still arranging some logistics and maybe around midnight or around 1am.
“The cash which was required is no longer a problem as we got a 767 which is a bigger plane and will just get fuel here and fly to Comoros and back.
“It is better for the players to sleep then we will wake them up when we have been told what time we are leaving as Air Zimbabwe still needs to plan for this trip and have everything in place before they can tell us what time we are leaving,” said Kuvengwa.
About 28 supporters were scheduled to go with the team to the Comoros.
High-level talks at ministerial level were undertaken last night as the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture and related ministries spent the greater part of the evening locked in meetings to ensure that the trip would not be aborted.
Sports Commission director-general Charles Nhemachena, speaking earlier in the evening before he drove to Bulawayo for the funeral of former board chairman Joseph James, said the talks had been engaged at high levels and the chances were bright that the team was going to leave.
The Sports Commission also resolved the impasse which saw coach Callisto Pasuwa leaving camp in frustration on Thursday after ZIFA failed to pay him his dues as promised by June 30.
The Commission made a part payment of Pasuwa’s dues which enabled him to return to take charge of the team.
While the officials were running around to make the trip a success the players spent the day at their lodge waiting for the confirmation of the trip.
Zimbabwe carry a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals by Evans Rusike and Marshal Mudehwe.
And rookie striker, Tino Kadewere, who is likely to be thrust in the starting line-up this afternoon in the absence of other strikers, said he was confident he would score and help the team progress to the next round where Botswana and Lesotho are waiting in the wings.
Hwange striker Rusike, who scored the opening goal, and Thomas Chideu are other strikers who are not available for this tie.
Kadewere said he was not bothered by the unavailability of other players and believes the rest of the team can do it.
“First game, I played about five minutes so I am looking forward to this game. In the first match I was looking for a goal, I really wanted to score,” said Kadewere.
“So I know I can score in Comoros if I get game time.
“We will win the match and I don’t see why we will fail. We should just be united as a team. We should not underrate them.
“They are a good side and would be at home. When they played here they got some chances here and there and are not that bad.”
Kadewere said they have to unsettle the hosts in their backyard with an early goal.
“We need to get an early goal and frustrate them. Some of the players who played in the first game are not here but I am sure that the available players can still deliver,” he said.
All the 20 players who were in camp this week were scheduled to make the trip.