BY HENRY MHARA
THIS year’s edition of the Cosafa Cup men’s tournament is likely to be staged in South Africa once again after Zimbabwe who had initially been named as the hosts for the regional tourney, turned down the offer last month.
Media reports from Durban yesterday suggested that Cosafa president Philip Chiyangwa had hinted that the tournament could be played in South Africa, who hosted the 2015, 2017 and 2018 editions. The tournament is scheduled for May 19 to June 1.
“The Cosafa Cup is likely to be played here in South Africa,” Chiyangwa was quoted by the South African media yesterday.
“Please talk to Danny Jordaan (Safa president) to get more information. Ask him, don’t waste time,” Chiyangwa said.
South Africa has hosted the regional tournament three times since 2015 and given the infrastructure it has, chances are that they will again agree to come to Cosafa’s rescue.
Limpopo hosted last year’s edition, but this year’s hosting province will only be announced once talks between Cosafa and Safa are concluded. The announcement for the host nation is likely to be made tomorrow.
Zimbabwe had initially accepted to host the tournament, but Zifa later reneged on their promise. They have since been hauled before the disciplinary committee, which is expected to sit in Johannesburg today.
Zifa face a fine or even a ban from participating in the tournament, although the former looks the likely outcome of the hearing.
Zimbabwe last year confirmed their desire to host the regional tournament, a decision that was taken by the association’s previous executive committee led by Chiyangwa, without getting the necessary government guarantees.
Now under a new leadership headed by Felton Kamambo, Zifa were forced to reverse the decision last month after failing to get the government guarantee.
Government claimed it had not been given enough time to prepare for the regional showpiece. Since then, negotiations have been going on behind the scenes with Zifa, aware of the repercussions of the late withdrawal, trying to convince the government to take up the offer.
That, however, come to naught, incensing Cosafa, who appear to be running out of time to get an alternative host for this year’s tournament.
Zimbabwe last hosted the men’s tournament in 2009, which the national senior football team went on to win. They hosted the Cosafa ladies tournament in Bulawayo last year, with the Mighty Warriors collecting the silver medal.
The regional body is pushing for the tournament to take place, despite hiccups, to give the five countries from the region who qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals which kicks off in Egypt three weeks later, a unique chance to warm up in a tournament setting.
Besides Zimbabwe, other Cosafa nations that qualified for the continent’s premier football tournament are Angola, Madagascar, Namibia and South Africa. The draw for the Afcon will be held in Cairo tomorrow.