BY HENRY MHARA
ZIFA’s relationship with the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) appears to have irretrievably broken down, with the association now considering pulling out of the 16-member regional organisation and join the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa).
This is in response to Cosafa’s last week decision to suspend the national senior men’s team, the Warriors, from competing at next year’s Cosafa tournament after Zifa failed to comply with a deadline to commit to hosting the 2021 edition of the competition.
Cosafa has also fined Zimbabwe US$200 000, which should be paid by August 15 or risk a permanent ban from participating in all the regional body’s
The impasse came after Cosafa accused Zifa of reneging on its commitment to host this year’s edition of the annual regional event, which was eventually hosted
by South Africa.
The current Zifa executive has, however, maintained that the commitment to host the Cosafa Cup was made by the previous Zifa leadership, which was ironically
headed by current Cosafa president Philip Chiyangwa.
Chiyangwa allegedly misrepresented to Cosafa that they already had a government backing to host the tournament, which later turned out not to be correct.
Following Cosafa’s tough sanctions against Zimbabwe early this week, a Zifa executive member yesterday told NewsDay Sport that the association had decided to pull out of Cosafa and were considering joining Cecafa.
The Zifa board was set to meet yesterday, where a decision was expected to be made.
“There is a lot of politics at play in this whole saga, and to be honest, we are fed up. We have to put an end to all this drama,” a board member said.
“And people should know that Zifa never made a bid to host the tournament, but only showed interest. Bidding for the tournament entails an association to submit a government guarantee, which was never submitted. What Zifa did was just a show of interest and for Cosafa to consider it as a proper bid is an act of mischief on their part. We know there is a third force behind this, including some top Cosafa bosses who are trying to destabilise the current Zifa leadership.
We think the best way is to pull out of Cosafa and join other associations where we are appreciated better. This is one of the issues that will be discussed in
the board meeting,” the board member said.
Since the ban only applies to the Warriors, Zifa are considering pulling the Mighty Warriors and Young Mighty Warriors from this year’s Cosafa Women
Championships which starts in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, next week in a move that would certainly throw the whole tournament into disarray.
“Why should we send the women teams when they have banned us? They know Zimbabwe is a crowd puller and a big brand in the region. We are seriously considering
pulling out,” the board member added.
The meeting was still in session by the time of going to print yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Warriors’ home-based squad would be looking to put one foot into the next round of the African Nations Championships when they play Mauritius in
the preliminary first round, first leg, in Port Louis tomorrow.
The reverse fixture is set for next week at Barbourfields in Bulawayo, with the winner of this two legged affair then proceeding to the final qualifier to meet
either South Africa or Lesotho for a ticket to the finals to be staged in Cameroon next year.
Chan is a tournament exclusively for domestic-based players.
Zimbabwe failed to qualify for the last edition after they were knocked out by Namibia.