FORMER Chicken Inn goalkeeper Liberty Chirava has disputed Highlanders Football Club’s version of events that led to him being dropped by the Bulawayo giants, citing tribalism as the reason behind his woes.
The 25-year-old shotstopper claimed Highlanders head coach Bongani Mafu always chastised him for speaking in Shona and things eventually came to a head when they were in Victoria Falls.
“We were getting ready for a match in Victoria Falls when coach Mafu shouted that when I was looking for a job I spoke in Ndebele, but now that I had secured employment I was using Shona to communicate,” Chirava said.
The Nguboyenja-based player claimed that he was not the only one who did not eat in Hwange, but two other players that were in his group Simba Sithole and Simon Munawa did not eat after they were told by their hosts that food had run out.
On the issue of his having failed to wear the same attire as the rest of the team Chirava said he had not dressed differently from his teammates, but had put on a cap that had not been provided by the team.
“I was not the only one that was putting on a cap, but the coach came to me and said he did not like my cap which I found rather disturbing since like I said, I was not the only one putting on headgear that had not been provided by the team,” Chirava said.
Mafu, however, dismissed Chirava’s claims and said the goalkeeper had been dropped for technical reasons.
“We had no dealings with Liberty that needed him to be Shona, but what we needed was his technical abilities, so his claims are unfounded.
“For your own information my next goalkeeper is Takunda Mutanga and he is very Shona. The tribal card is something that anyone can play but what is surprising is that this only comes up when these boys are no longer playing for the team and not during the time they would be playing,” Mafu said.
Chirava is the second player to bring up the tribal card against Bosso in recent weeks after former striker Njabulo Ncube alleged the Highlanders leadership had never liked him because of his roots.
He has tried to rejoin Chicken Inn, but has been told that the Innscor-sponsored side has finalised their squad for the season.
The burly goalkeeper said he had not been able to pay rent for the month of February since he did not receive his salary from Highlanders.
“I do not have money to pay rent and the landlord has given me until Thursday (today) to settle my arrears and I don’t know where I will get the money,” Chirava said.
“I can’t even sleep because of stress and I find it unbelievable that Highlanders claim that I do not have a contract with them and yet I signed a two-year contract on January 10.”
He added that after signing the contract he went on to get January payment ($500) which was deposited in his BancABC account that the club opened for him. February pay did not reflect after he was dropped.
“Unfortunately I did not get a copy of the contract despite asking for one, but their claims that they let me go because I am not good enough are not true as they wouldn’t have let me stay with the team for so long,” Chirava added.
“Football is my livelihood and as the breadwinner, I am at a loss what to do. They (Highlanders) dropped me at the last minute and it’s going to be difficult for me to find a team, so the least they could do is to give me my February pay.”