BY HENRY MHARA
MARVELOUS Nakamba and the other United Kingdom-based Warriors stars are likely to be available for the remaining 2022 World Cup qualifiers early next month, with Fifa pushing to end the club versus country row.
Fifa has since engaged the British government amid indications that footballers would receive a special waiver over quarantine rules.
According to foreign news reports yesterday, clubs are likely to release their players in the next international window coming up in October and November.
Nakamba and several other Warriors players including Tendayi Darikwa, inform Jordan Zemura, Macauley Bonne, Brendan Galloway, Admiral Muskwe and Scotland-based David Moyo were barred from reporting for international duty in the last international break.
The players missed the Warriors’ opening two World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Ethiopia last week where Zimbabwe picked just a single point.
Zimbabwe played a goalless draw against South Africa before losing 1-0 to Ethiopia, two results that have since cost Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušić’s job after he was fired by Zifa on Sunday.
The Warriors will play Ghana in back-to-back clashes early next month before facing South Africa and Ethiopia in the reverse fixtures in November.
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But there were fears that the incoming senior national team men’s coach might also not be able to call on the England-based players due to that country’s tough COVID-19 restrictions.
UK rules demand that players travelling to red-listed countries would have to isolate for 10 days on their return, which means they miss some games.
As a result, English Premier League (EPL) and English Football League Championship clubs unanimously decided not to release players for international matches played in red-listed countries. Incensed by the decision, national associations, particularly those in South America including Brazil, invoked Fifa’s “automatic restriction period” of five days which stops clubs from picking players who have not been released.
But the countries made a surprise U-turn and withdrew their complaints which saw the affected players appearing for their clubs at the weekend.
It has since emerged that the countries involved waived the bans after talks with Fifa.
“Potential solutions to ensure clubs will release players in the next international window have been drawn up by senior Whitehall figures and are now under consideration by the Public Health England. Full exemptions appear unlikely, but a compromise appears close to being reached,” wrote the Telegraph.
“Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is understood to be pushing for a solution, having played a role in ensuring the government showed flexibility in granting exemptions around Euro 2020, Wimbledon and the India cricket team travelling to England. Senior figures within world football are also increasingly optimistic that allowances are now within reach to avert another club-v-country spat in October and November,” the newspaper added.
Fifa yesterday said the decision by the national associations to withdraw their complaints was “a sign of good faith, goodwill and co-operation” and taken “based on positive signals and constructive dialogue Fifa has received from the UK government towards the international match window in October.”
“The UK government is now open to finding a reasonable solution with the three organisations, who are working closely together in a spirit of mutual understanding, in the interests of everyone,” the world soccer governing body said.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino had called on the UK government to exempt players from the rules so they could report for international duty without affecting their domestic clubs.
However, that call was rejected.
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