Source: Kirsty backs British Brigade | The Herald October 30, 2019
Grace Chingoma in HARARE and Sikhumbuzo Moyo in BULAWAYO
YOUTH, Sport, Recreation and Culture Minister Kirsty Coventry says the new crop of the British Brigade are ‘‘key’’ players for the Warriors’ 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia next month. Coventry said that in her official request, sent to Registrar-General, Clemence Masango, last week for assistance in the urgent processing of passports for five members of that British Brigade.
The five are red-hot Charlton Athletic forward Macauley Bonne, Bournemouth defender Jordan Zemura, Bolton Wanderers defender Adam Chicksen, Kidderminister Harriers defender Cliff Moyo and Swansea defender Tivonge Rushesha.
Already, Rushesha has pulled out of the qualifiers after sustaining an ankle injury that will rule him out of action for, at least, four weeks.
‘‘The ministry is kindly requesting that you assist in the urgent processing of passports for the following players who are key in the upcoming Zimbabwe matches,’’ Coventry wrote.
‘‘Tivonge Rushesha, Cliff Moyo, Adam Chicksen, Jordan Zemura, Macauley Bonne.
‘‘Please, find attached the request letter from ZIFA and receipts for the applicants.’’
Bonne, who has scored five goals in his last six matches for English Championship side, Charlton Athletic, has been waiting for a Zimbabwean passport since May when he announced to the world he was on his way to join the Warriors at the 2019 AFCON finals.
‘‘To counter the press reports, I have completed all necessary documents to get my #Zimbabwe passport. I will be travelling to #AFCON2019 this summer, representing my country,’’ Bonne tweeted on May 14.
The tweet was accompanied by a picture of the striker shaking hands with the Zimbabwean Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Christian Katsande, at Zimbabwe House in London.
Warriors’ team manager, Wellington Mpandare, said when they initially lodged Bonne’s papers, a few months ago, they were told his case was a complicated one as he had to first renounce his British citizenship.
Bonne was born in Ipswich, England, and Mpandare said they were told back then that it would have been easier for the striker to get a Zimbabwean passport if he had been born in this country.
However, the Warriors’ team management have been pursuing their case and Mpandare said they have now been told they have to bring Bonne’s birth certificate, which they were sorting out, and his mother’s identity document.
‘‘Bonne and Chicksen are the ones who are applying for a Zimbabwean passport for the first time and we have been told we need to bring their birth certificates and their parents’ IDs,’’ said Mpandare.
‘‘The others are just renewing their passports which had expired.
‘‘We have been told that we submit two applications on Monday next week, lodge two more applications the following day and lodge the last two applications on the third day.
‘‘We are working on securing all that we have been required to provide.’’
Jonah Fabisch, said Mpandare, holds a Zimbabwean passport and so do others like Douglas Nyaupembe and goalkeeper Martin Mapisa.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Cain Mathema told ZBC’s Classic 263 radio station on Monday evening that the Government would scrutinise every application.
He was responding to a caller who wanted to know why the issue of the passports for the British Brigade has dragged on for a long time.
‘‘Every person who applies for a Zimbabwean passport ought to follow procedures and these are international procedures not dictated by the Zanu PF Government,’’ Mathema said.
‘‘We have to be very careful. Who is really applying, all sorts of considerations that we have to make.
“Bruce (Grobbelaar) was born in Bulawayo, he was not a foreigner. In any case, if the Warriors want people, how come they have not written to the Registrar-General’s Office or to the secretary (permanent secretary) or even to my office explaining what it is that they are talking about?
‘‘We will assist . . . the days of the kings are long gone, we have no monarch in Zimbabwe.’’
Team Zimbabwe UK chief executive Marshal Gore, who has been a key player in getting players who were born in England to come and represent the Warriors, is in the country and has been also trying to get the issues resolved for the likes of Bonne to play for the national team.
He said he is excited Warriors caretaker coach Joey Antipas took a bold step and included some of the British Brigade for the next AFCON matches.
“Our view is that this is a very positive move and very encouraging,’’ said Gore.
‘‘If you looked at the performance in Egypt, it really showed that our team lacked what I would say exposure of playing football at the highest level and the level of fitness was also not the right one,’’ said Gore.
‘‘These guys are playing in professional leagues and the level of fitness is very high and their confidence is high as well and are not fazed by occasions, you can’t buy confidence.’’
Gore said Senegal legend El Hadji Diouf, who was at the AFCON and watched Zimbabwe in action, also expressed concern about lack of self-belief.
“I spoke to Diouf after our game against Egypt and he said you have a good team, you played to the best of your ability but there is a thing called confidence which you lacked.
‘‘Confidence gives you the freedom to express yourself and not pass responsibility but I believe with players like Bonne, coming from Charlton Athletic, they will take responsibility.
“We lost against Egypt because of a confidence issue, performance-wise and everything we matched them.
‘‘I believe this blending will help us to improve the character of our team and bring confidence to the side.
‘‘We have already started work to support those that do not have passports to get passports, working in collaboration with ZIFA and the team manager, because these players are representing the nation and they are a priority, they are ambassadors.
‘‘So, if there are criteria, they should be on top of that. Our job is to facilitate and we have been working with the embassy in London which has been helpful.’’