Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA benefactor Wicknell Chivayo, charmed by the Warriors’ destruction of Swaziland in a 2017 Nations Cup qualifier, has showered the squad with Samsung Galaxy S7 phones and dangled a massive $250 000 carrot for the senior team should they qualify for the finals in Gabon.
Chivayo was among the special guests in the National Sports Stadium’s VVIP Tribune on Easter Monday as the Warriors finally found their rhythm with a merciless 4-0 demolition of Sihlangu that propelled them to the top of the Group L standings. With Guinea beating Malawi 2-1 in Blantyre yesterday, coming from a goal down to win, it means the Warriors will still qualify for Gabon should they beat the Flames at home in June and the West Africans fail to win in Swaziland on the same weekend.
Chivayo released $72 000 to ZIFA on Easter Monday night to help the Association pay the players.
The massive victory left Chivayo over the moon and the young Harare businessman once again underlined his commitment to helping the Warriors achieve their dream when he released $72 000 to pay for their appearance fees and rolled out a tantalising $250 000 carrot which is now for the taking by Callisto Pasuwa and his men should they retain top spot in Group L and qualify for Gabon.
Chivayo first told Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane and ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa of his pledge at a dinner with the duo before announcing the big carrot to the Warriors.
The ZIFA benefactor also weighed in with a mobile gadget for each of the 28-man squad, including the technical crew, who were given Samsung Galaxy S7 phones worth $1 100 each.
Chivayo reckoned that Sparta Prague defender Nhamoinesu, who capped yet another brilliant show in Warriors colours with a classy bullet back post header, was his man-of-the-match.
“Over and above what I gave I asked for permission to give my man-of-the-match Dread (Nhamoinesu) $1 000 and Musona $1 000 for scoring a very slow penalty I have never seen in my entire life that was full of class,” said Chivayo.
“I told them that if you qualify I will give the players $250 000 hard cash on the same evening after the match and no stories. “I said to Pasuwa ‘ask your wife which car she wants’ so that she can continue to cook for you nicely home . . . I want the coach and the players to stay motivated.”
Chivayo also made a huge statement against the scourge of match-fixing that had threatened to scupper the Warriors’ back-to-back clashes against Swaziland following revelations that a cartel had been working to try and fix the outcomes of those games.
“All these pledges that I am making are outside the $1 million which I gave to ZIFA which they have literally almost exhausted in three months,” said Chivayo.
Chivayo reiterated during his dinner meeting with Hlongwane and Chiyangwa that there was a strong need to ensure the Warriors are always motivated and incentivised to avoid being lured by match-fixers.
“I have assured the players that I am richer than these match-fixers and if you make my country happy like you did today complaining about salaries and bonuses will be a thing of the past,’’ Chivayo said.
Chivayo said match-fixers should not be allowed to infiltrate the national game by pouncing on the regular disputes over bonuses and allowances between ZIFA and the Warriors. The Warriors will now host the Flames at the National Sports Stadium on June 4 before they wind off their qualification bid with a tough away assignment against Guinea in Conakry in September. But should Swaziland who have been tough to beat in Mbabane, hold or beat Guinea, the Warriors could yet seal their qualification with victory over Malawi in their last home assignment.
And Chivayo wants that to be a night to remember for the Warriors and he emphasised to skipper Willard Katsande and his men yesterday that he would pull all the stops in conjunction with ZIFA to ensure that the senior team is fully motivated and ready for their defining moment.
Katsande and big striker Nyasha Mushekwi, in thanking Chivayo on behalf of the Warriors, also pledged that they would not disappoint ZIFA’s new all-weather friend.
“We are deeply humbled by this gesture and we just want to thank our sponsor for what he has done and all that he is promising to do for us.
“We also want to make history and qualify for the Nations Cup and make our country proud and we will work hard to achieve this,’’ Katsande said.
The Kaizer Chiefs hardman, who formed the first line of defence against Swaziland, said they were also aware of the rewards that come with success and were determined to be part of the history-making Warriors squad.
Only Sunday Chidzambwa in 2004 in Tunisia and Charles Mhlauri two years later in Egypt have managed to take the Warriors to the Promised Land with the legendary Peter Ndlovu being the captain on both occasions.
With Chivayo firmly behind them, Pasuwa and his men have Nations qualification firmly in their sights and the Warriors just need to hold their nerve and secure a berth at the finals which their industry richly deserve.