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Doom and gloom for Zifa


THE world of football congregates at St Petersburg’s Konstantin Palace in Russia for the 2018 World Cup draw this Saturday, minus Zimbabwe after the country’s failure to clear an $81 000 debt owed to its former coach Jose Valinhos.


Valinhos, brought in by Zifa under the leadership of Wellington Nyatanga in 2006 with the help of the Tourism ministry, and tasked with leading the Warriors to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, was a monumental failure-the worst in the history of Zimbabwe football.

He raked in $15 000 a month.

He was fired and took Zifa, now under Cuthbert Dube to Fifa and won his case. In March this year, Fifa decided that for Zimbabwe to take part in the 2018 World Cup draw, they had to pay up.

They have failed, and so we will, at 1800hrs on Saturday be watching on television, as 53 African nations take part in the preliminary draw.

Last week, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport, Arts and Culture chaired by Tapiwa Matangaidze mandated the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), an arm of the ministry to fundraise to clear Valinhos’ debt.

In a statement last week after deliberations in Parliament, the committee said: “Zifa has and continues to abrogate on it’s fundamental mandate to raise funds for national teams, only seeking last minute bailouts from government. Zifa is now dysfunctional and has no capacity, as currently structured, to raise funds for its mounting debt woes.

“If urgent interventions are not made, Zimbabwe’s football demise is inevitable. In light of these observations, committee resolved to support that with immediate effect, the Sports and Recreation Commission through the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture, be mandated to raise for football.

“The most pressing and immediate requirement being to clear the Valinhos debt. The Zifa leadership has lost its legitimacy and no longer has any moral ground to stay even one more day in office.

“Stakeholders should seriously consider the appointment of a judicial manager to protect Zifa assets from a probable run in by creditors. This will clearly not be government interference.”

And SRC director-general Charles Nhemachena reported a bleak situation yesterday.

“There is no progress as yet in as far as raising resources to pay Valinhos is concerned. We would certainly welcome well-wishers to the save the nation from this embarrassment of failing to participate in the 2018 World Cup draw.

“Some of these things cease to be national association business, but they have to do with national pride and providing opportunities for players to get exposure to enhance their careers, especially those who will be doing well. So we are looking forward to last minute well wishers to save the situation,” Nhemachena said.

Zifa spokesman Xolisani Gwesela said: “The board is still seized with the matter. We have been exploring various ways for Zimbabwe to be restored their status. Our legal team has also been busy trying to negotiate. We have not given up hope.

“Our efforts are hampered by lack of financial resources. We will, however, issue a detailed statement by Thursday (tomorrow).”

On Saturday, the leadership of the local game will be gathered at Zifa Village to look at the state of football — a week after Zifa failed to raise $34 000 for the Mighty Warriors airfares for an Olympic match against Ivory Coast in Abidjan.

With Zimbabwe out, the 26 lowest-ranked participating associations from the region will be involved in Round One. These teams will be allocated to two pots of 13 teams based on the Fifa World Rankings of July 2015.

The 13 highest ranked teams (Niger, Ethiopia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Kenya, Botswana, Madagascar, Mauritania, Burundi, Lesotho, Guinea-Bissau, Swaziland) and the 13 lowest ranked teams (Tanzania, Gambia, Liberia, Central African Republic, Chad, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti).

They will then be drawn against each other to play over two legs on a home and away basis between October 5 and 13, 2015.

The 13 winners of those matches advance to Round Two, where they will join the remaining 27 highest-ranked teams from the region and face off in another two-legged play off, home and away. The 20 highest-ranked teams are Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal, Cameroon, Congo, Cape Verde, Egypt, Nigeria, Guinea, DR Congo, Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, South Africa, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Rwanda.

These 20 highest-ranked teams will be placed in one pot and drawn against teams in a second pot, which will comprise the 13 winners from Round One and the remaining seven highest ranked teams: Togo, Morocco, Sudan, Angola, Mozambique, Benin and Libya.

Round Two will then be played from November 9 to17, 2015.

The winners of these games then move into Africa’s final qualification round where five groups of four teams will meet both home and away. The winner of each group will qualify for Russia 2018.

Former Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o, who will act as one of the draw assistants on Saturday, told yesterday that Russia could stage one of the best ever World Cup finals.

“I hope it will be the best, because Russia has everything it needs to stage the greatest World Cup ever,” he said yesterday.

“It has to be the world finals in South Africa because they were the first in Africa. The only pity is that I wasn’t able to live out my dream of taking my country as far as possible. I was very happy all the same because Africa showed that we can do big things.”

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