Warriors Complain Over Poor Training Pitches

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By Sports Reporter 

THE Zimbabwe Warriors technical team says it is not happy with the training facilities which were provided by the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) ahead of their 2022 World Cup G qualifier against the host nation at the FNB Stadium on Thursday evening.

Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare told Zimbabwean journalists in Johannesburg on Tuesday that he was forced to find an alternative training venue after SAFA failed to provide a satisfactory training facility.

“South Africa (SAFA) offered two training pitches, one is artificial and the other one the grass was too long, they promised to cut it so we didn’t want to take chances. We had to look for a training pitch and we ended up securing this one that we are training at and obviously we are going to pay for it so it was not provided for by the FA,’’ said Mpandare.

Zimbabwe, who arrived in South Africa on Monday for a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Bafana Bafana on Thursday, had their first training session at Sandton Sports Club on Tuesday.

Mupandare also said he was not happy that SAFA did not provide a vehicle for the Warriors’ head of delegation on the day Zimbabwe arrived.

“It’s unusual for South Africa to do that, because normally South African and Zimbabwe have cordial relationships and things are smooth. I think someone is sleeping on duty, I don’t think it’s coming from the FA.”

Ideally, the host nation provides training facilities, with the away team also allowed to train at the match venue 24 hours before kickoff.

Zimbabwe will play against Bafana at the FNB Stadium in a reverse qualifier on Thursday evening before hosting Ethiopia on Sunday.

Group G leaders Bafana Bafana, on the other hand, will travel to Ghana for a crucial qualifier next month, just three days after hosting Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe are out of contention for Qatar 2022 after failing to win a single qualifier in the last four, but will likely look to finish strong as they prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations in January next year.

On the other hand, South Africa are aiming to get a victory against Zimbabwe and a draw against Ghana, which would be enough for them to progress to the playoff round of the World Cup qualifiers.

Zimbabwe, who are already without several key players, were dealt another blow after Wigan Athletic defender withdrew from the squad for the remaining two World Cup qualifiers.

Out of the initial 25 players called up by Warriors caretaker coach Norman Mapeza, 21 took part in yesterday’s training session.

The duo of Brendan Galloway and Knox Mutizwa were expected to join the team later on Tuesday.

“Of all the 25 players called into camp, we have 21 so far training. Knox Mutizwa and Brendan Galloway have just landed, they will join the team after the training session and do the afternoon training session together with the other guys. Darikwa (Tendayi) will not make it, he has some family issues to attend to so he has been excused for these two games.

Zimbabwe is also making last minute efforts to ensure Leicester City Academy starlet Tawanda Maswanhise is available for the game against Ethiopia at home on Sunday.

Maswanhise, who was born in England to Zimbabwean parents, does not have a Zimbabwean passport but Mpandare is hopeful that he will have his travel document ahead of Sunday’s match.