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THE row between ZIFA and CAPS United over the release of Young Warriors players escalated yesterday with the Premiership side’s coach Mark Harrison defying the association and ordering his players to leave the national Under-23 camp. Former Young Warriors skipper and left-back Ronald Pfumbidzai, Takudzwa Mahori and Kudzai Nyamupfukudza had been included in coach Callisto Pasuwa’s side that is preparing to face Cameroon in an All-Africa Games qualifier at Rufaro on March 22.

But Pasuwa — bracing for his first competitive assignment since being elevated to national Under-23 coach two years ago — has not had the brightest of starts to his training camp.

After having to endure a postponement to his planned early training camp, Pasuwa has now been forced to make adjustments to his initial squad amid revelations that some of the foreign-based players he had wanted for this encounter such as Kuda Mahachi of Mamelodi Sundowns and striker Macauley Bonne, who plays for Colchester United in England will not feature in the game.

Pasuwa was hit by a fresh headache yesterday when CAPS United coach Harrison ordered his players to leave camp.

In an unprecedented move by local club coaches, Harrison also wrote to ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze indicating that his club would not be releasing their players because Makepekepe will need them for the start of the domestic Premiership campaign.

The 2015 Castle Lager Premiership season will burst into life on March 21, a day before Zimbabwe face Cameroon at Rufaro and while Harrison insists CAPS United won’t release their players, ZIFA maintained that the Englishman was “offside as the international assignment would take precedence over the domestic games”.

“Please be aised that we are unable to release our players Ronald Pfumbidzai, Takudzwa Mahori, Kudzai Nyamupfukudza for your camp and game against Cameroon for the All-Africa Games qualifier.

“Reasons being that we have been aised that our league games start on the same weekend as the game versus Cameroon.

“These players are vital for our preparations and our season ahead. I have spoken to Mr Phiri (Twine) regarding this matter and he fully agrees with me. We thank you in aance for your co-operation,” wrote Harrison.

ZIFA communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said last night that his association would stamp its authority and “will not allow Harrison to bully the national Under-23 technical team”.

“The behaviour by the CAPS coach is anti-Zimbabwean because even the PSL authorities are aware of this match, it is not a friendly match that has just emerged from nowhere.

“In any case, the ZIFA chief executive is writing to CAPS United to indicate to them that ZIFA do not deal with club coach coaches. We deal with club executives so Harrison is already offside by taking matters into his hands.

“National teams’ assignments take precedence over all football activities in this country and ZIFA will not tolerate people who do not have respect for the mother body,” Gwesela said.

Mashingaidze, Gwesela said, was also due to engage CAPS United president Twine Phiri on the row.

Curiously, Phiri, who is also a ZIFA board member is cited by Harrison as having “fully agreed” to withhold CAPS United players from the same association for which he is a board member.

The row also puts into question the unity of purpose that ZIFA were preaching at the end of their assembly meeting in Harare two weeks ago in which the association, through vice president Omega Sibanda, vowed to put an end to squabbles that have rocked the governance of the domestic game.

Phiri is also the PSL chairman and the move by CAPS United could trigger a massive withdrawal of players by fellow Premiership clubs, who will rightfully feel short-changed if teams like Makepekepe are allowed to hold onto their key players while others release their best players for national duty.

Gwesela said the only Premiership side whose players had been excused from camp are FC Platinum, who are expected to fly out to Tanzania tomorrow for a CAF Confederation Cup assignment against Young Africans.

“The FC Platinum players have been excused because of their international commitments in Tanzania but the players will be available for the match against Cameroon as they will join camp when they return from Tanzania next week,” Gwesela said.

Pasuwa said the rate at which he is being forced to make adjustments to his squad was also affecting their training schedule as it meant having to restart what they would have gone through.

“We are trying our best but the problem is we are starting again almost every day as some players are withdrawing. We had assembled a team that had been playing some friendlies of late and was beginning to take shape.

“We had a good team but because some players are absent we are forced to start again every time. There are several players we have missed on due to different reasons and we are trying to play catch-up game every time,” Pasuwa said.

The Young Warriors coach is likely to have his camp affected by players leaving to join their respective clubs for the weekend’s pre-season matches if ZIFA do not walk the talk and move into stamp their authority.

Pasuwa has since roped in players like the ZPC Kariba pair of Sam Makawa and Terrence Gonzo, Triangle’s Praise Tonha, and Munyaradzi Diro Nyenye of Harare City.

The former Dynamos gaffer said they are also working hard to ensure the players are match-fit for the tough assignment against the West Africans.

“There are some players whose absence is understood like those from FC Platinum who are playing in the Africa Safari and I hope they will join us in time after their campaign.

“The Highlanders trio of Teenage Hadebe, Nqobizitha Masuku and Thomas Chideu are likely to travel to their club on Thursday (today).

“Several players, as you can notice, were working hard on their fitness levels but some are still struggling and will only be able to get there with a few more sessions,” said Pasuwa.

The under-23 coach cast his net wide and has seen some international players joining camp but he emphasised on consistency.

“There is need to keep consistency within the team and that will help us as the players will have a better understanding of each other,” Pasuwa said.

Source : The Herald