Zifa worried

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Zifa president Cuthbert Dube has expressed his fears over the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations crucial tie between Mali and Liberia after reports a delegation from the former had offered the Lone Star money to throw the game.

Zimbabwe play Cape Verde Island next Saturday in Praia, the same day Mali will be playing Liberia in Monrovia. Any of the top three teams in Group A can qualify.

On Thursday night, according to reports, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) turned down a request from Liberia to have the match played on Friday, 24 hours before the Warriors match.

This would have turned Zimbabwe’s match into a dead rubber, further butressing reports the Mali-Liberia match result had already been decided. Mali lead the group with nine points.

The Warriors are second with eight and Cape Verde has seven. If the Warriors win, they will qualify for the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next year.

Mali are well aware Zimbabwe could beat the Cape Verde and are not sure of their own performance against the Liberians.

According to the Daily Observer of Liberia, a delegation from Mali arrived in Monrovia two weeks ago and offered the hosts a substantial amount of money to throw the crucial match.

A group calling itself the “Concerned Citizens for the Promotion and Development of Football” has claimed it has evidence of match-fixing. Yesterday Dube told NewsDay Sport in a wide-ranging interview they will take up the issue with the Caf.

“This is match-fixing and we will take it up with Caf. There is nothing that can stop us from playing under protest . . . Something has to be done.
“If it were for some sports, this match would now be played at a neutral venue because it really spoils the competition,” he said.

He added: “We have been making efforts to get incentives for our players for this game because we need to win the match at all costs and we are encouraged by the support from the government.

“We have been going through these qualifiers without any assistance and the way we have been doing things was not the best way. We are hopeful that we will get something from the government this time.”

The Zifa board meets today (as reported in an earlier story) to make final preparations — among other pressing issues — for the Warriors who are expected to leave on Monday via South Africa and Senegal.

“We will discuss those preparations, look at the recommendations that have been made in terms of restructuring the secretariat as per guidelines given to us by Fifa from that Victoria Falls meeting.
Fifa is showing confidence in our leadership and are saying that should be evident in the regions, the provinces and all our affiliates. We will also look at the constitutional-review process we put in place when we came into office.

“Our constitution needs to be amended in various areas because for now we feel it is highly skewed towards individuals and not the institution.

“We need a constitution that cannot be easily manipulated by unscrupulous individuals,” he said. Dube also spoke on the Asiagate Ethics Committee which is expected to be announced in due course.

“We will discuss that and regularise the appointment of a judicial body to conduct the hearings. We are still consulting and the response is encouraging because this committee will be made of high-profile professional people

“Let me add that no member of the Zifa board will sit on that committee. Eaton (Chris, Fifa head of security) repeated that on his visit and we would want to follow on that and have a completely independent expert body to deal with these issues.

“The committee will have a retired judge, a retired senior police officer, a legal expert who has already agreed and two people with extensive sporting background. We have received a positive response towards this,” the Zifa boss said.

While there have been calls for the immediate commissioning of the committee to expedite the process that has seen the suspension of three board members, Dube said they will not be rushed.

Second vice-president Kenny Marange, board member (development) Methembe Ndlovu and Northern Region chairman Solomon Mugavazi have been suspended from football activities pending their appearance before the committee.

“We don’t want to be rushed. We want a perfect job to be done and we will make sure that they (committee) has all the time they need. But as far as our planning is concerned, they should complete the probe before the year ends. They will handle football issues and other things will be handed to the police and the Anti-Corruption Commission.”