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Zimbabwe players fail to jet in

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Malawi’s opponents in Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations Group L qualifier, the Warriors of Zimbabwe, Thursday failed to fly into the country after players refused to board their plane, insisting the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) should first pay their outstanding allowances.

The Warriors were supposed to jet in at 7:15pm Thursday, but the players demanded that they be paid at least US$500 each before travelling to Malawi.

Cash-strapped Zifa failed to pay the players the money and as we went to press yesterday, discussions were still underway.

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Football Association of Malawi general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda confirmed the development last evening.

“Zimbabwe did not arrive as expected due to financial problems their FA is facing,” he said.

“Their players refused to board the flight due to unpaid bonuses.

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They might come tomorrow (today) by road if they manage to solve the problems they are facing.”

Meanwhile, Flames Coach Young Chimodzi said he was impressed with the level of preparations the Flames have had and he has since asked his charges to deliver tomorrow to set the tone that the Flames were ready to make it to the 2017 finals in Gabon.

“We are very happy with the preparations. Over the years, the problem has been poor preparations. This time around, we have played about three friendly matches and we have also participated in the Cosafa Cup.

“We have seen some young players getting into the picture and that gives us good options. Now we have a picture of the team that we will use. We have a good team that will deliver good results,” he said.

Chimodzi added that the Flames would not go into the match under any sort of pressure and they are confident of starting on a good note.

Ironically, the Flames lost 4-1 to Zimbabwe at the Kamuzu Stadium in Chimodzi’s first assignment as Flames coach last year.

“That was a different match. This time around we are prepared for battle. I have confidence in the boys that they will do well,” he said.

Meanwhile, Flames captain Joseph Kamwendo said morale was high in camp and the supporters should play the ‘12th player’ role efficiently so that they should burn the Warriors.

“We saw massive support at the Cosafa Cup in South Africa even though there were a few fans. We ask the home support to be vocal on Saturday even when we are struggling on the pitch. They should not come to watch the match but they should come to support,” he said.

To qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals, the Flames have to win Group L that comprises Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Guinea.

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