Zimbabwe: Warriors' Technical Team in Trouble

27 January 2021

Senior Sports Reporter

THE Warriors technical team will come under the spotlight in the coming weeks for the dangerous decision to field a player that had failed a cardiac test in a CHAN Group A dead rubber clash with Mali on Sunday night.

Defender Qadr Amini was diagnosed with some heart complications prior to the football tournament and the medical experts advised that he should be rested until further tests were conducted.

But after missing the opening two matches at the CHAN tournament in Cameroon, the defender hogged the limelight after he was substituted just under three minutes into the game against Mali on Sunday night.

ZIFA have since launched investigations to establish how the defender ended up in the Warriors' line-up despite expert advice to exclude him on health grounds.

The association's Communications and Competitions Manager, Xolisani Gwesela, said the decision to exclude Amini, who was part of a group that tested positive for Covid-19 during a training camp last month, was made by the board. He insisted the player should not have been fielded.

"ZIFA would like to categorically state that in line with CAF's medical guidelines, there was a test that we were supposed to be conduct on all players who had recently recovered from Covid-19 called Cardiac MRI test.

"Our medical team checked among radiology centres in the country and there was none in Zimbabwe conducting such a test. ZIFA wrote to CAF to arrange and facilitate that the affected CHAN players be tested in Cameroon.

"All the affected players were tested upon arrival in Yaoundé and the Board was notified prior to the commencement of the tournament that the player was not fit to play due to heart complications.

"A decision was made not to field the player until the recovery of the player and subsequent retests. The Board was shocked to see the player in the starting line-up without the player having undergone another test.

"The technical and medical teams were engaged and could not give a convincing explanation on why the player was included. The Board then made a decision to order the technical team not to use the player until a retest had been conducted.

"The decision was made in the interest of the player's health. The Board played its oversight role to protect the player from potential permanent harm that may have included death as well as to safeguard the reputation of the game of football.

"The insinuations in some media platforms that such was interference with team selection therefore has no basis. The ZIFA Board has set up a commission of inquiry made up of experts to understand what exactly took place and whether it was proper to field the player.

"ZIFA urges the public and media to respect the privacy of the health status of the player and we wish the player a quick recovery," said Gwesela.

So did the Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic, who has the final word on who should and who should not play, ignore the expert advice and went ahead with fielding the player?

What role did his assistants and medical staff play? Did the whole technical team consider the grave consequences that usually come with such complications among footballers?

ZIFA, despite their intervention, also have to answer questions why they allowed the player to continue being involved after they were notified of his condition by CAF. Studies have shown that with heart problems, there is as much danger in training as there is in playing the match itself.

The fact that he was even included in the team means he was putting in everything in training.

If they cared enough about his health, why did they let him involve himself in training, earning a chance to get into the team, when he had a dangerous condition?

The danger is just the same and ZIFA should have ordered that he stopped training.

If CAF had flagged him as being medically unfit to play, which also means to train, they should have captured his name in the database and he would have been deemed ineligible for the games. Why didn't that process get followed?

Research has concluded that Cardiac problems are a big issue with sports people, especially footballers because of the intensity of the game.

Sudden cardiac death in young competitive athletes (below 35-years-old) is a tragic event that has been brought to public attention in the past few decades.

History has many cases of footballers who have collapsed on the pitch and needed to be resuscitated using modern medical expertise or in the worst cases, died on the pitch.

So the decision to play Amini was, in the extreme scenario, homicidal and authorities should get to the bottom of the matter to avoid such recklessness in the future.

In 2002, Blue Swallows player Elisha Chikuni collapsed and died during a match after scoring a hat-trick in the team's 5-1 thrashing of their opponents.

Former CAPS United and Fire Batteries goalkeeper, Elwyn Mushangazhike, collapsed during a match and later died.

Another player Tawanda Saravhezho also collapsed and died during a Division One match between Blue Swallows and Chegutu Pirates at Manyame in 2003

Former Njube Sundowns player Mephias Webb also collapsed and died while playing for his social team at Bango Grounds in Mpopoma in 2015. Former Eiffel Flats player Edwin Mekani collapsed and died in Kadoma.

Over recent years, Eliah Munyaradzi of Maguta in Epworth, a team in Division Three, ZRP Morris' Nyasha Chakanyuka and Buffaloes' Simbarashe Nyauzima collapsed and died on the field of play during pre-season training in 2017.

In 2019, teenage Zimbabwean footballer, Cedric Dube, collapsed and died while playing for Division Three side, Talen Vision, in a league match between his team and Bulawayo City at the Barbourfields B Arena.

Internationally, on June 26, 2003, Cameroonian Marc-Vivien Foe met with tragedy at the Stade de Gerland Stadium in Lyon, France, during a FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final match against Colombia.

The 28-year-old midfielder collapsed near the centre of the field, unchallenged and with no other player even near him.

Despite immediate medical attention, Foe died soon after, throwing the footballing world into mourning.

After two autopsies, the cause of one of the most famous tragedies in football was ruled to be cardiac arrest. Italian midfielder Piermario Morosini, who played for Livorno, suffered a heart attack during an away match at Pescara in 2012.

He received medical attention on the field and was rushed to the hospital, but his death was confirmed soon after.

Cote d'lvoire international Cheick Tiote died at the age of 29 after collapsing during training with Chinese second-tier side Beijing Enterprises.

The cause of his death was said to be cardiac arrest.

So ZIFA needs to be reminded that trifling with medical advice when heart complications are mentioned, is actually playing with danger.

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