Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
TEENAGE HADEBE’S week-long ordeal, in which he has been battling to get a new passport to fly back to his base in Turkey, is finally over after he received his travel document yesterday.
The 24-year-old Zimbabwe international had been holed up in Bulawayo waiting for a new passport after the one he was using ran out of pages on which immigration officials stamp entry and departure stamps and where visas are also attached.
Warriors’ team manager Wellington Mpandare, who has been leading ZIFA’s quest to help the Warriors star secure a new passport, told The Herald the new passport was released yesterday.
“Teenage’s passport is now out, I was called by officials from the Registrar General office and they told me to come and collect the passport at 4.30pm,’’ Mpandare said.
“I went there and got the passport and that’s something positive given all the pressure that we have been under in the past few days with his Turkish club rightly demanding that they want to see their player at his base so that he can play for them.
“We have revised his travel plans and Teenage will now leave tomorrow (today) at 12.50pm on the South African Airways flight from Bulawayo to Johannesburg.
“From there, he will get onto a Turkish Airlines flight which leaves at about 19.15 hours for Istanbul and then on Friday morning he will be on another Turkish Airlines flight to his base in Malatya.
“It has been a tough time for everyone but we are happy that he is now going to do what he does best and that is playing football.’’
Hadebe was initially scheduled to leave for Turkey last Wednesday after playing for the Warriors in the 2021 AFCON qualifier against Zambia in Lusaka.
However, he was forced to fly back home to get a new passport after running into trouble with Zambian immigration officials who initially barred him from entering Lusaka.
Since last Thursday, Hadebe had been trying to get the new passport to fly back to his Turkish base with his employers at Super Lig side, Yeni Malatyaspor, furious that the defender had stayed longer, than initially anticipated, away from the club.
On Tuesday, amid exploding emotions, it was revealed Yeni Malatyaspor were even contemplating terminating the Zimbabwean defender’s contract in the event he failed to fly out of the country yesterday.
Hadebe didn’t travel yesterday, as scheduled, since the passport had not been issued but ZIFA said they would engage the Turkish side to ensure the defender would not be punished severely.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to categorically state that the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Art and Recreation and the Registrar General’s department have done their role in ensuring that Warrior Teenage Hadebe’s passport renewal is expedited in the least possible time,’’ ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, said in a statement.
“The Warriors team manager, Mr Wellington Mpandare in liaison with the ZIFA Secretariat, commenced the process and we are glad to state that Hadebe’s passport will be issued on 28 November 2019.
“We sincerely regret the inconveniences caused to Yeni Malatyaspor by Hadebe’s delayed return.
“ZIFA is grateful to our parent ministry and the Registrar general’s department for expediting the renewal process which had to begin from the acquisition of the player’s birth certificate and national ID.
“By virtue of being a Zimbabwean employed outside the country, Hadebe falls under a group that the registrar general listed as a priority when it comes to issuance of passports in this period when the department is facing material challenges.
“The fact that the player will receive his travel document tomorrow means that the registrar general’s department has done well under extremely challenging conditions and limited time.
“ZIFA is deeply grateful to the Government for treating Hadebe’s case and that of players born outside Zimbabwe as a priority.
“On our part, we are also engaging Yeni Malatyaspor to ensure that we have lasting relations beyond the just concluded fixture. We wish Teenage Hadebe all the best and a successful career.’’
However, while ZIFA appeared to have settled for an arrangement where Hadebe’s passport would be issued today, according to their statement, the travel document was in fact, released yesterday.
The defender’s case attracted the interest of many Zimbabweans who took to Twitter to express their feelings while appealing to the authorities to treat the matter with the urgency it deserved.
Hadebe, who moved to Turkey in July this year from South African giants Kaizer Chiefs, has quickly established himself as one of the best defenders at his new employers.
He is set to miss his second straight game tomorrow night but could be in action for Yeni Malatyaspor during midweek in a Cup game next week.