Zimbabwe to miss out on AFCON draw Felton Kamambo

Grace Chingoma-Senior Sports Reporter

THE 2023 Africa Cup of Nations draw will be held next week and Zimbabwe’s Warriors will not be part of the teams that will go into the hat as the country continues to pay the price for poor administration.

Zimbabwe’s was suspended by FIFA and cannot take part in any international competitions. The FIFA punishment, although misguided, was in response to the Sports Commission’s suspension of the ZIFA board as they sought to find solutions to problems affecting the administration of Zimbabwe’s football.

The harsh reality of missing out on the fresh continental football fiesta will be felt by the Zimbabweans fans especially next Tuesday as the continent will be following the proceedings during the live draw for next year’s edition that will be held in Ivory Coast.

It is also time to reflect on the suspended ZIFA leadership headed by Felton Kamambo on how their maladministration has cost the country. 

The AFCON qualifiers will commence in June. So far Zimbabwe and Kenya are the only countries that are automatically excluded from the hat.

In the press statement released by CAF during the weekend, the Cairo-based organisation also announced the dates for the CHAN qualifiers draw.

The draw for the tournament reserved for players playing their football in their country of birth will be held on April 28.

The qualifiers for the CHAN games will then commence in July.

Zimbabwean local-based players will also miss a chance to showcase their talent at a bigger platform that in the past has helped a number of players secure contracts outside the country. The local-based Warriors will not be part of the teams that will participate in the CHAN qualifiers.

CAF will also hold the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations finals draw on April 25.

The tournament will be held in Morocco in July. Zimbabwe’s Mighty Warriors failed to qualify for the AWCON tournament after they missed out to Botswana on away goals rule, having finished 3-3 on aggregate in February shortly before Zimbabwe were suspended from international football.

Even if Zimbabwe had progressed to the AWCON finals, they would have later forfeited the slot to Botswana following the suspension.

The Sports Commission have vowed to clean up domestic football administration, and revive the game.

SRC commissioner responsible for sport development committee Nigel Munyati feels it is wrong to always participate in major events with no clear plan in place. Zimbabwe have been to five AFCON finals and have never gone past the group stage.

Speaking after the ZIFA board was suspended last year, Munyati said everyone should bear the pain while long-term solutions are being put in place.

“Because of the mismanagement of our sport, particularly football, we have been reduced to a nation that lives for events,” he said.

“That’s the wrong way to approach development in the sport.

“There must be an ongoing programme which, unfortunately, ZIFA has failed to implement.

“And now, we are waiting for AFCON, and what if there is another one, and another one, and then stop thinking about long-term.

“So yes, a few individuals might be inconvenienced but unfortunately, this is for the betterment of football,” said Munyati. 

The regulator believes the break from international football will afford the time for the ZIFA Restructuring Committee to lead the process of finding lasting solutions to the challenges being faced by the Zimbabwean football administration.

“I think Zimbabwe football needs this space, this opportunity, just to fix itself up. If that takes us a year, takes us two years, and we are out of international football, I think that’s fine and everyone accepts that,” said chairman Gerald Mlotshwa during the announcement of the ZIFA ban last year in November.   

The Restructuring Committee chaired by lawyer Blessing Rugara has begun its roll-out programmes and has since met with ZIFA staff and ZIFA councillors, and is expected to engage the public through hearings.

The committee has since engaged BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants to conduct a forensic audit of the ZIFA accounts. 

They shall also review at the ZIFA constitution and develop a strategic plan with a four-year implementation cycle for consideration.

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