Zimbabwe/Botswana: Outrage Over Warriors' Chaotic Travel Arrangements to Botswana

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Former Warriors forward Alois Bunjira has criticised Zimbabwe football authorities for the chaos which characterised the senior national football team's travel arrangements for the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

The match is to be played against Botswana in Francistown this Thursday.

However, the Warriors left Harare for Johannesburg Wednesday afternoon and were expected to catch a connecting flight to Gaborone before enduring another 433,7km road trip to Francistown.

Zimbabwe's travel arrangements mean the team which is missing several key players due to injuries and the impact of Covid-19 travel restrictions in England will not have a feel of the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium turf prior to the match which kicks off on 1800 hours.

The chaotic travel arrangements for the important match was met with outrage by Zimbabwean football fans with most of them venting their anger at the bungling ZIFA on social media.

Other fans also questioned the government's failure to come to the national team's aid on the same day they flew senior government officials and a number of opposition leaders and their aides to the resort city of Victoria Falls for the launch of the phase two Covid-19 vaccination programme.

However, Bunjira, who has been a fierce critic of the current ZIFA leadership, believes the chaotic travel arrangements exposed the local football mother body's failure to plan in advance for the important trip.

The latest gaffe comes after the Warriors trained on a terrible pitch at Raylton Sports Club Tuesday which also drew the ire of concerned football fans.

"Fair and fine, we will get to Francistown eventually. But was that the best route to get there, or scientifically the best, amid the issues of no flights from Gabs (Gaborone) to Francistown?" Bunjira quipped in a post on social media.

"Considering we had players that travelled from Europe, and trained at the terrible Raylton sports club (which was surprisingly and sad), could we not find better travelling arrangements?"

Bunjira warned the travel arrangements could expose players to injuries before the match against Botswana and the final qualifier against Zambia at the National Sports Stadium Monday.

The CAPS United legend feels it was more convenient for the players if ZIFA had organised the Warriors' training camp in Bulawayo which is closer to Botswana's Francistown - only 200km away.

"For starters, why didn't we have the team camping in Bulawayo and then take a coach across to Francistown, which is less than 200km from Bulawayo? Bulawayo has got hotels and nice training venues. Logistically, it was the simplest thing to do... in my view. Alternatively, why couldn't the team fly to Bulawayo and then hire a coach from Bulawayo to Francistown? Remember they will still have to drive from Gabs to Francistown, which is about 500km."

Bunjira also questioned ZIFA's failure to negotiate with the government through the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to organise an Air Zimbabwe chartered flight to Botswana.

"Could ZIFA not have negotiated with the SRC and the government, to have the team flown straight to Francistown on a chartered Air Zimbabwe flight, which is a journey of about 40 minutes approximately? This is a national cause and I want to believe the Air Zimbabwe charter could even cost less than the route taken."

Bunjira added: "The Air Zimbabwe plane could spare two hours to take the guys to Francistown and come back to continue with its domestic work... and then spare the same amount of time to pick them up after the match. Was there any presence of mind to think along those lines or we are still thinking about the frosty relationship between the SRC and ZIFA? But surely a national cause could take precedence.

"These organisations, plus the sports ministry and the government, need to have a sound relationship and come together, especially when there are matches of this nature. We should move away from those petty 'government interference' fights and cries, and let all parties involved play their part when necessary."

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