Zifa’s kit deal with sportswear giant Puma is still hanging in the balance as the cash-strapped association and the German kit manufacturers are yet to reach an agreement.
Zifa, who currently have no official kit sponsor, were hoping the deal would be concluded before the end of last year to enable them to unveil merchandise to the public ahead of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
“We are yet to reach a formal agreement with Puma, but we remain hopeful a deal will be struck soon so fans can have easy access to their national team’s replica jerseys before next month’s 2013 Afcon qualifier against Burundi.
“I can, however, confirm that we have been in contact with Puma representatives and negotiations are still ongoing.
“In the meantime, our national team will continue to use the Puma kits for their assignments,” Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze told NewsDay Sport yesterday.
“Our chances are very high as our neighbours South Africa, who reached an agreement with Puma last year, also promised to assist us in our negotiations,” Mashingaidze said.
The South African Football Association (Safa) signed a seven-year deal with the sportswear giant last year becoming the 12th team on the continent to reach a deal with Puma.
Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Algeria, Senegal, Morocco, Togo, Burkina Faso, Malawi and Namibia are all kitted by Puma.
Prior to changing to Puma, the Warriors had been without a branded kit since acrimoniously parting ways with Italian sportswear company Legea after an arrangement which had not yielded any financial gains for the national association.
However, while the Legea jersey was sometimes unavailable on the market, the current Puma kit has never been on the market.
Walking down the streets of Harare or Bulawayo, one could be forgiven for thinking they were walking in the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa, considering the number of people donning the green and yellow Bafana Bafana jerseys.
There was an outcry from the football fraternity last year ahead of the Mali game in June after Zifa hosted a ceremony purportedly to unveil the kit which was expected to contain replica jerseys for fans but turned out to be kits for players only.
While for many wearing a national football jersey is an expression of passion for one’s team, for most Zimbabweans, it remains a dream.
Even the biggest game played in this country between the Warriors and Brazil on June 2010 saw Zimbabwean supporters clad in Bafana Bafana regalia and the trend continued during the failed 2012 Afcon qualification campaign.
The issue of replica jerseys even affects the three biggest franchises in the country — Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United — whose fans would opt for Chelsea, Orlando Pirates/Juventus and Celtic jerseys respectively.
Only newcomers FC Platinum have successfully managed to deal with that issue after just a year in the top flight as their various jerseys are available in both home and away strips for children and adults countrywide.