BY HENRY MHARA
THE Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) could be in trouble with the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) for reneging on their promise to host the
tournament this year.
Zifa last year confirmed their desire to host the regional tournament, a decision that was taken by the association’s previous executive committee, without getting the
necessary government guarantees.
The tournament is scheduled for May 19 to June 1.
Zifa, now under new leadership headed by Felton Kamambo, were forced to reverse the decision last month after failing to get the government guarantee.
The 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 has, however, came to naught, incensing Cosafa, who appear to be running out of time to get an alternative host for this year’s tournament.
Yesterday, they announced that they will punish Zimbabwe, and a disciplinary hearing has been set for South Africa this Thursday.
“The venue for the 2019 edition of the Cosafa senior tournament, scheduled from May 25 to June 8 2019, remains undecided. Zimbabwe Football Association is now in breach of their hosting agreement, signed by Zifa late in January 2019, and returned to Cosafa. Following a Board meeting convened on March 9 in Zimbabwe, Zifa reconfirmed their commitment to host the tournament in Zimbabwe, irrespective of whether they received government funding and guarantees,” said Cosafa in a statement.
Zifa now faces a fine or even a ban from participating in the tournament, although the former looks the likely outcome of the hearing.
“Zifa management committed to presenting to Cosafa written confirmation of this decision no later than March 25, 2019. Unfortunately they failed to deliver on the nominated
deadline which has left Cosafa with no recourse other than to enforce their disciplinary procedures which process calls for Zifa to attend a disciplinary hearing scheduled 4th
April in Johannesburg. The hearing will be handled by Cosafa’s independent judicial body, and the outcome and punitive action will be handed down within 48 hours of the hearing.”
Zimbabwe last hosted the men’s tournament in 2009, which the national senior football team, went on to win.
They hosted the Cosafa female tournament in Bulawayo last year, with the Mighty Warriors taking the silver medal.
“Cosafa is particularly disturbed by the management of the process by Zifa by 2019 is a critically pivotal year for football in the Sub Saharan region. For the first time in 21 years five Cosafa member countries have qualified to participate in the continental showpiece, including Zimbabwe’s celebrated Warriors.
“The Cosafa senior tournament has consistently proved to be a vibrant platform of opportunity for all competing countries, and in 2019 has become a key factor in pre-Afcon preparation for the successful qualifiers, with Coaches and team Management planning to use the Cosafa tournament to fine tune their training prior to the Afcon June 21 kickoff. Cosafa remain hopeful that Zifa will remedy the current situation prior to the DC (disciplinary committee) hearing on 4th April.”
A host of teams from the region were hoping to use the tournament to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals set for Egypt.
Besides Zimbabwe, other teams from the region that qualified for the Afcon finals are Angola, Madagascar, Namibia and South Africa.