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Zimbabwe football gone awry

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THE Warriors have failed to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, the 2013 edition, Under-17 and Under-20 teams failed to travel to away matches to fulfil two African Youth Championships. Asiagate has weighed football development heavily down.

Report by Wellington Toni Sports Editor

What does Zifa boss Cuthbert Dube (CD) has to say about all this? He spoke to NewsDay Sport (ND) on Wednesday about these issues in a question-and-answer session. Below are excerpts of the interview conducted by Sports Editor Wellington Toni:

ND: Can you shed more light on the disbandment of the senior national team and the survival of the technical team? Some football experts and quarters believe coaches should also have been fired at the same time as players.
CD: It is not true that the technical team was spared or survived. We have said we need a technical report on the entire campaign starting from the Burundi match and what transpired, as well as the Angola matches. They have promised to have the report ready tomorrow (yesterday) and it will be tabled at a special board meeting set for Saturday (tomorrow) where a decision on the fate of the technical team will be made. We have also invited Rahman Gumbo and his team to be present at the meeting.

ND: What direction is the national team taking now, as it is clear that both the Under-17 and Under-20 sides will come under severe sanctions from Caf?
CD: We have tried to plead with Caf on these two issues so that, at least, we can pay fines than face suspensions. But that all depends on mitigating circumstances that we will put forward. But we are expecting a positive reaction from Caf.
The Under-17 issue was fueled by the fact that the government told us only last Friday that they had no money for the trip. I had to talk to a travel agent who agreed to buy tickets for the boys. But there were only eight seats available on the Harare-Nairobi-Congo route and we could not send a team.

The alternative routes were all full and we had to request for a postponement from Caf, but we were turned down. This was primarily because it was the third postponement that was being sought for the same match after we had indicated our boys were writing exams. The Congolese had their own request.

So we are looking at some form of mercy (from Caf) that will then kick start the process of building another team with remnants from the senior national team. We need to have a strong team ready for the Chan competition next year.

I was not happy with the performance of some of the players in Angola, but we are not saying everybody did badly. There were some good players in there who can fit into the new scheme of things we envisage for the senior national team.

ND: Concerning Asiagate bans and suspensions, there has been an outcry on the method used to downgrade or upgrade the sanctions. Can you brief the country on what criteria was used?
CD: We resolved to take the recommendations from the judge Justice Ebrahim Committee as they were.

ND: And how is the association, struggling with a number of court cases, going to handle various litigations that are likely to arise from Asiagate? Fifa is concerned about the process. Is there anything that Zifa is doing to address those concerns?
CD: When the Justice Ebrahim Committee came into play, we set up mechanisms to deal with these issues as we had already been advised that litigations would follow once sanctions had been imposed. We also advised Fifa and they have asked us to communicate with them as a matter of urgency when such litigations eventually come.

A special Appeals Committee has been put in place to deal with the processes and concerns that Fifa raised on how we would exhaust local channels first. I am very pleased with people that have been selected to deal with appeals. They are professionals and I believe fair play will be achieved at the end of the process.

This is an opportunity for any aggrieved person to follow and exhaust proper football channels and clear their names.

ND: Any news on the Centralgate match-fixing scandal?
CD: Hearings are being conducted in Bulawayo right now by Custom Kachambwa and his team and we expect the final report on Monday.

ND: At this stage, Zimbabwe football is nothing to talk about, but you have indicated that you will seek re-election in March 2014. Will the Warriors failures, the Under-17 and 20 debacles and Asiagate not play against your plans?
CD: If anything, this will boost my chances because 2013 is a year of reconstructing football. We have spent a lot of time on cleaning up the game. We are going to have a strategic meeting in December where everything will be mapped out. I am prepared to face my opponents on public, radio or television platforms, so that the country will get to know the vision we want the game to follow.

The country has been fooled for far too long and they need to know the truth about the game. Sharing platforms with challengers will present this opportunity.

ND: Was the gesture by the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters’ Association led by Eddie Mboma Nyatanga genuine, or do you feel they are part of the group of people who never believed sanctions would eventually be effected — are they now trying to play on the right side?
CD: Only time will tell. The information they provided in Parliament where they lied under oath and in the media was false, and it constitutes potential civil and criminal charges. If they are genuine, I will accept the apology they made, but if they are not, I will go back to my initial intention to press charges.

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