WASHINGTON DC —
Zimbabwe Warriors, who arrived in Malawi by road a few hours before a crucial Group L Africa Cup of Nations match, beat the Flames 2-1 on Saturday at Blantyre’s Kamuzu Stadium.
According to the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), Warriors workhorse, Khama Billiat, scored the winner in the 83rd minute after John Banda had leveled the scoreline in the first half.
Curthbert Malajila scored the Warriors’ first goal in the 23rd minute despite covering a grueling 9-hour road journey from Harare to Blantyre. The Malawian commercial capital is 604.5 kilometers from Harare.
The Zimbabwe national squad travelled on a bus to that country on Friday after players refused to board a plane, demanding advance appearance fees of up to $500 each from the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA).
They claimed that they have not been paid in the past and therefore it was impossible for them to fulfill the Malawi fixture before being paid their allowances.
Indications are that beleaguered ZIFA chairman, Curthbert Dube, promised to pay the Warriors when they return home. Some soccer fans say Dube has failed to run the sport in Zimbabwe as the Warriors have, under his leadership, been facing serious problems including lack of training before crucial matches and inadequate funding for national teams.
The ZIFA boss has not yet responded to these allegations.
Coach Kalisto Pasuwa boosted his squad by including players like Netherlands-based Marvelous Nakamba, Sweden-based Musona as well as the South African trio of Billiart, Willard Katsande, and Malajila.
The other teams in the group are Guinea and Swaziland.
Only one team from the group qualifies for the finals to be held in Gabon in January 2017.
Zimbabwe are desperate to qualify for the finals after missing out in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015.