HARARE-Self-styled Zimbabwean soccer ‘prophet’ Walter Magaya has stepped in again to ensure the national team can play their African Nations Cup qualifier in Malawi on Saturday.
The squad was due to leave for Blantyre on Thursday but stayed in Harare after the players refused to travel, citing concerns that they would not receive match fees from the cash-strapped Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA).
Magaya, who also paid $50,000 last month for the team to take part in the regional Cosafa Cup, moved in again to cover the $42,000 needed to cover the trip to Malawi.
“I felt that it was important that I help the team so that they travel to Malawi because the African Cup of Nations is a very important tournament and we can’t be seen, as a nation, failing to play in such a tournament,” Magaya told Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper.
“The players and their coach really want to play against Malawi and there were issues over money and what I have done is that I have told the players that we will pay them their dues and they now need to go out there and fly our national flag high in this important tournament.”
Magaya, the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader, is a fervent football fan and one of the most influential individuals within Zimbabwe football, although he holds no office at ZIFA.
Zimbabwe have been banned by FIFA from taking part in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers over an $81,000 unpaid debt to their former Brazilian coach Valinhos dating back to 2008.
ZIFA CEO Jonathan Mashingaidze has said the debt will be settled this month before the ruling body petitions FIFA to be allowed back into the qualifiers. – Reuters