Young Warriors back in Caf competitions

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Zimbabwe’s junior football teams will return to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) competitions after the local football governing body Zifa met the December 31 deadline for registration of teams, the Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze said yesterday.

Due to perennial financial challenges, Zifa withdrew all junior national teams from Caf competitions in 2010 to focus on the senior national team, the Warriors.

“Yes, we managed to meet the Caf deadlines for the registration of junior teams and our Under-17 and U-20 national teams should be taking part in the qualifiers that start in April for tournaments in 2013.

“We have made a commitment to invest in our junior teams as they are the future of our national teams and need as much exposure in regional and international competitions,” said Mashingaidze.

He said his association would make a review of all junior national team technical departments when the Zifa board meets month-end.

“The board will meet at the end of the month to review all the technical departments and new appointments will be announced before the start of the qualifiers,” Mashingaidze said.

The national Under-17 team was under the guidance of Rodwell Dhlakama while the Under-20s were under the tutelage of Monomotapa coach Taurai Mangwiro.

Dhlakama is now based in Swaziland.

According to the Caf website the Caf Under-17 African Championships will take place in Morocco in 2013 and the preliminary round qualifiers take place during the weekend of April 13-16.

The qualifiers for the Under-20 Youth Championships, which take place in Algeria in 2013, will start a week after the qualifiers of the Under-17s during the weekend of 20-22 April.

However, the draw for the qualification process is yet to be conducted.

Zimbabwe’s pull-out from the qualifiers in 2010 resulted in junior teams missing out on qualifiers for the Under-17 and U-20 Championships hosted in Rwanda and South Africa respectively last year.

The national Under-23 team, which had virtually been non-existent since 2007 before taking part in last year’s All-Africa Games qualifiers, were also withdrawn from the London Olympic Games qualifiers.