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Zifa in eye of storm


Zifa were Tuesday in the eye of a storm after registering Highlanders for the 2010 Confederation of African Football (Caf) Orange Confederation Cup without the club’s approval.

Highlanders now face a two-year ban from inter-club competitions if they pull out of the competition after the draw had been conducted.

The Bulawayo giants were drawn against Nchanga Rangers of Zambia in the preliminary round of the annual competition.

The first leg will be played at home during the weekend of January 28-30 and the second leg away on the weekend of February 11-13.

However, Zifa said they had received registration information from the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to enter them into the competition.

Highlanders chairman Themba Ndlela said they never registered their side for the competition. Zifa acting chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze said: “We received the information from the Premier Soccer League because we do not deal with clubs directly. I remember at some stage Highlanders saying they had no money to participate.

“But we will now have to deal with the Caf Competitions Committee to make sure that the issue of any ban is managed properly. “

Investigations by NewsDay though reveal that Ndlela wrote directly to Zifa informing them of their decision not to participate.

Said Kenny Ndebele, PSL acting chief executive, yesterday: “I can confirm that Ndlela communicated directly to Zifa via email informing them of their decision not to take part and to hold their registration in the competition. The problem is with Zifa and not us.

The email was copied to us for our information.”
Highlanders last participated in the Confederation Cup in 2008 when they lost 2-0 to El Merrikh in Omdurman, Sudan, which left them with debts that they only managed to settle this year.

This could have led to their decision not to take part in the 2011 edition.

Nine clubs received byes into the first round: ESS of Algeria, Esperance of Tunisia, Al Hilal and Al Ahly of Egypt, Libya’s Ittihad, Stade Malien of Mali, reigning African champions and Club World Cup runners up TP Mazembe of the DRC and El Merreikh of Sudan.

The draw for the 2011 Caf inter-clubs competition was held yesterday at the Caf headquarters in Egypt.

Fifty-five clubs will compete for the Orange Champions League and 52 clubs for Orange Confederation Cup.

The competitions will begin at the end of January. The Orange Champions League final will be played from November 11— 13 and the Orange Confederation Cup from December 2 — 4.

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