Senior Sports Reporter
A BOTCHED transfer deal, which resulted in him transgressing the South African work permit regulations, has returned to haunt Warriors assistant coach, Lloyd Chitembwe.
The Harare City head coach was this week back in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, when it emerged he was not included in the Warriors party for the COSAFA Cup in South Africa.
The regional tournament got underway at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth yesterday.
With Chitembwe already ruled out of the touring party, ZIFA were thrown into quandary on Monday when Warriors head coach, Zdravko Logarusic, was also barred from entering South Africa as he did not have a visa.
Loga was, however, cleared to travel to South Africa yesterday afternoon and is expected to make it in time for the Warriors opening COSAFA Cup game against Mozambique at midday today.
‘‘The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to inform the football fraternity and the nation at large that Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic, has been granted visa to travel to Port Elizabeth, South Africa for the 2021 COSAFA Cup,’’ ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, said.
‘‘The coach will depart from Harare today (yesterday). We thank all relevant stakeholders for the great cooperation.
‘‘Meanwhile, the Warriors trained today (yesterday) at Old Grey stadium in Port Elizabeth under the guidance of assistant coach, Tonderai Ndiraya.
‘‘We wish the Warriors all the best and we remain optimistic that they will produce a positive result.’’
But Chitembwe will have to follow proceedings on television as he remains blacklisted from entering South Africa, by that country’s immigration authorities.
The 50-year-old coach has never publicly discussed the matter.
However, it is understood Chitembwe tried to join Black Leopards from Hellenic during the 2001-02 season and had begun work at the Limpopo side before he applied for a fresh work permit.
The move, sources told The Herald, did not go down well with the Hellenic officials who lodged a complaint, leading to Chitembwe’s case being taken to the immigration officials.
However, other sources claimed it was actually Black Leopards who reported Chitembwe to authorities, after they gave him part of signing-on fees, yet he never turned out for the club.
The sources claim Black Leopards used their powerful connections to ensure authorities in that country would ensure the former Warriors midfielder would never be allowed to enter South Africa.
“A case in point was in 2005, when CAPS United travelled to Lesotho for a Champions League game and flew to Johannesburg, before connecting by road,’’ the sources said.
‘‘Lloyd had to stay behind in the transit lounge because he could not legally enter South Africa.
“It is something that has been there, for nearly two decades now and, maybe, the coach should have used the lengthy period to apply for a reprieve from the South Africa authorities.
“He should have tried to use his growing influence to appeal through the relevant authorities and have the ban lifted, as it just doesn’t feel right to know that one of the best upcoming coaches is banned from entering South Africa.’’
When the Warriors flew to Gaborone for an AFCON qualifier against Botswana, reports claim the red flag was raised over Chitembwe’s status at OR Tambo International Airport.
However, given the team wasn’t entering South Africa, and were only in transit, the Warriors assistant coach was allowed to proceed.
However, Chitembwe was part of the CAPS United team, which took on Moroka Swallows, in a 2010 CAF Confederation Cup match in South Africa.
And, with the Warriors being drawn in the same 2022 World Cup qualifying group with South Africa, it also means Chitembwe cannot travel to that country when they face Bafana Bafana.
The World Cup qualifiers are tentatively set to start in September.
It also means he cannot sit on the Warriors technical bench for any tournament involving Zimbabwe which will be staged in South Africa.
This also means Chitembwe cannot travel to South Africa with his Harare City should they, for instance, win the Chibuku Super Cup and are drawn against a Supa Diski side in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Chitembwe also travelled to Polokwane for the Green Machine pre-season friendly matches against Mamelodi Sundowns, when he was assistant coach to Sean Connor.
CAPS United undertook a road trip to Polokwane for that assignment.
Interestingly, ZIFA appeared to suggest, in their statement on Monday that they were aware of the compromised status of the Warriors assistant coach.
Although they did not shed light on the issue, the association, through their spokesperson Gwesela, said Chitembwe was never part of the Warriors tour party for the COSAFA Cup because of personal complications.
‘‘Assistant coach, Tonderai Ndiraya, will prepare the team in the absence of coach Lloyd Chitembwe, who was never pencilled to travel to South Africa, as a result of his non authorisation to travel to South Africa,’’ Gwesela said.
‘‘We apologise to the nation for the inconvenience, however, the team remains in high spirits and ready to compete to everyone’s best abilities.
‘‘We would like to assure the nation that the association is making frantic efforts to remedy the situation.’’