Zimbabwe national team miss flight amid payment dispute

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwe missed their flight on Thursday for a 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier in Malawi because of a dispute with the national federation over unpaid bonuses and allowances.

Federation spokesman Xolisani Gwesela said the players were still at their hotel in Harare late on Thursday after the flight they were scheduled to take left for Blantyre. Gwesela didn't say how or if the dispute was being resolved.

The players want outstanding payments from previous tournaments to be paid and also want guarantees that they'll get their allowances for the Malawi trip.

The team could now miss Saturday's game in the first round of qualifying, raising the possibility that it is thrown out of the competition by the Confederation of African Football. Zimbabwe were already chucked out of 2018 World Cup qualifying by FIFA because of the federation's failure to pay wages owed to a former coach.

The Zimbabwe Football Association is in dire financial trouble and president Cuthbert Dube recently survived a move by the board to remove him from his position. FIFA ruled that the meeting that resulted in his removal was against the world body's rules.

Zimbabwe's under-23 team was banned from international competitions for three years for failing to show up for an African youth championship qualifier in Angola in 2012.