The Herald (Harare)

6 November 2012

Congo-Brazzaville/Zimbabwe: Under-17s Fail to Travel to Congo Brazzaville

ZIMBABWE'S Young Warriors risk being walked over by Congo Brazzaville after they failed to travel to the Central African country yesterday for their African Under-17 Youth Championships qualifier. The Young Warriors, trailing 1-2 from the first leg in Harare, were expected to play the Congolese in Brazzaville today. But by late last night they were still holed up in the capital with Zifa insisting that they had encountered complications with the connecting flights between Harare and Brazzaville.

Zifa chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, could not be reached for comment last night.

But sources at Zifa indicated that the 26-member Zimbabwe Under-17 delegation had faced challenges following their "late travel arrangements".

Zifa, struggling for funding, could not secure the Young Warriors' air tickets on time.

By the time they got some confirmation about air tickets the airline reportedly told them that they were fully booked on the flight from Nairobi to Brazzaville, which meant they could only travel in batches with the bigger part of the group only arriving in Congo after the match.

But with no guarantees of a connection flight for the entire squad to Brazzaville, the trip became a risky exercise.

It also emerged that Zifa late yesterday notified both the Confederation of African Football and their hosts of their plight and had sought a postponement of the game to Thursday.

"There were challenges related to the issue of funding which meant that tickets could not be paid for on time.

"But by the time the tickets had been secured which would have meant the squad would leave Harare at 1am tomorrow (early this morning) aboard Kenyan airways.

"However, that arrangement had its complications in that the flight between Nairobi and Brazzaville only had eight vacant seats and with the game being on the same day of their arrival, it did not make sense just to send eight people there.

"So now Zifa have written to Caf and the FA in Congo to ask them to move the game to Thursday by which time the team would have travelled.

"If Caf and Congo agree to the request then the match will be rescheduled," the sources said.

The Young Warriors had initially been scheduled to leave last Thursday but financial constraints forced them to delay their departure.

Lloyd Chigowe's side progressed to this stage after dismissing Mozambique 4-2 on aggregate.

If this trip is doomed, the Under-17s will join their counterparts, the Under-20s, who also failed to travel to Angola in August to fulfil their second leg.

This will mean the two junior national teams will face a possible three-year ban each from Caf competitions.

Chigowe was not happy with the way things were unfolding last night.

"It's pathetic to say the least because you cannot expect to come up with a good result even if we make it to Congo," said Chigowe.

The Young Warriors also made life difficult for themselves in the game against Mozambique in Harare before battling hard to turn the tables in Maputo.

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