Now that Afcon 2022 run is over…

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By Kevin Mapasure
Now that the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) road has reached a dead end for Zimbabwe, boardroom squabbles will reclaim the spotlight as the battle for the control of the game intensifies.

The Warriors’ dance at the continental showcase helped football enthusiasts to temporarily forget about their problems at home for a while.

But it’s back to reality for Zimbabwe. It’s time for the fans to confront the sad reality that they will not be able to watch their national teams playing at home following the stadia ban imposed by the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

The players stare a rough road to the next Afcon finals as they will have to play home matches in neighbouring countries following a ban on all of the country’s stadiums after being adjudged sub-standard.

Before they even discover the draw for the qualifiers, they already know that qualification will be more difficult with the possibility of either Botswana, Zambia or South Africa for a temporary base depending on the outcome of the draw.

Winning home matches is the key to qualifying for major tournaments and playing home matches on foreign land naturally presents a cocktail of challenges.

The home advantage that a team should normally enjoy disappears.

Zifa will struggle to raise money for the costs related to playing away from home.

They would have to pay for services they would normally get for free back home or for less.

A home match is normally self-funding. The association can pay for the stadium and security from gate-takings as well financing part of the team’s allowances.

Playing home matches away from home will eat into the football association’s coffers, while it will also be a blow to the team’s chances of claiming a place at Africa’s top table in Ivory Coast in June next year.

Government has somehow dragged its feet in uplifting stadiums in the country to the required standards.

There is still bickering on who should do what at the National Sports Stadium which needs individual seats and new electric turnstiles among other outstanding requirements.

The Confederation of African Football, which was lenient with Zimbabwe last year, has drawn the line and said the national teams can no longer play at the National Sports Stadium until its demands are met.

For the coaches, led by Norman Mapeza, the long wait starts. Their future is up in the air and they have no idea whether they can start planning for the qualifiers that start in March as there is currently no appointing authority, with the Zifa board suspended.

Mapeza’s contract was only for the Afcon finals. Only the board has got the power to appoint a national team coach.

The Zifa congress is set to meet on January 29, a crucial gathering that could shape the future of the game in the country.

Some members of the congress want to get rid of the current board, or at least some of its members over a plethora of alleged transgressions.

The board members, who include president Felton Kamambo and Philemon Machana, are both fighting hard to retain their spots.

With more Zifa councillors joining the bandwagon against the two, Kamambo and Machana look doomed.

But they could throw a joker and evade dismissal. That too could present more problems, with the Sports and Recreation Commission determined to get rid of the current board.

The question is: how will Fifa react if an internal process at Zifa were to fail to kick out Kamambo and Machana?

Zifa is supposed to receive a Fifa grant this month. With all the problems, Fifa is likely to withhold funding, which leaves the association hamstrung.

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