Mutare — YOUNG WARRIORS' skipper Willard Kalongoda believes the recent dismissal of manager, Lloyd Chinawa, will have a negative effect on morale in camp given the bond he had formed with the players.
Chinawa was fired in unclear circumstances recently and replaced by Harare businessman Patrick Mutesva, who emerges in the national set-up, exactly six years after being kicked out of the Warriors' hotel at the 2006 Nations Cup finals.
Chinawa's dismissal, according to sources, is set to open a Pandora's Box with the manager expected to make sensational claims related to why he was axed.
Kalongoda said he was confused in the wake of the manager's dismissal.
"I honestly have to say that I was shocked to learn about it. I heard that it is all because of the fact that he was late for a pre-match meeting and we all know that it was not his fault," said Kalongoda.
"It was a clear case of sabotage. They just didn't want him, but I am sure it will negatively affect the morale of the players. He is the best team manager we have ever worked with.
"The guy was really concerned about our welfare. He was always with us during camp while some of them neglected us. We are also aware that on numerous occasions he used his own money to feed us."
Zifa chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, dismissed suggestions that he parachuted his friend, Muteswa, into the Young Warriors' post.
"The latest development was a mere board decision taken after review of the Botswana match," said Mashingaidze.
"The board felt that there were some changes that had to be done and that was implemented. It had nothing to do with my personal relationship with Mutesva. In any case that is not the way I operate.
"We don't appoint or fire people on personal grounds. Yes, Chinawa came late for the pre-match meeting and we really do not condone that especially when we are playing at home.
"I even talked to him about that."
Chinawa said he was being sacrificed.
"It was not my fault that I delayed attending the pre-match meeting in Bulawayo," said Chinawa.
"The truth about what happened is that the coaches left us together with the players at Hillside Teachers' College in Bulawayo. They went away with the bus that we were using.
"They never told me where they were going. I was fully aware of the fact that there has to be a pre-match meeting. I was then phoned by Mashingaidze at around 5.45pm informing me that I should attend the pre-match meeting at 6pm.
"I promptly phone Tapera to come pick me up, but he could not answer his phone. I had no transport to rush to the pre-match meeting since I had left my car in Harare and joined the players in the team bus. A Bulawayo referee was then sent to pick me up and we managed to be at the venue of the meeting at 6.15pm.
"I apologised to the match officials and they understood us."