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Zifa to send bid last minute

Enock Muchinjo

ZIMBABWE’S bid to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2010 might turn out to be another farce.

Zifa chief executive Jo

nathan Mashingaidze said this week the official bid by the association will be sent to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, next week.

The winner will be announced four years in advance at a Caf congress in Cairo in January ahead of the hosting of the 2006 tournament in the north African country.

The 2010 showpiece has attracted serious interest since the host will share the limelight with South Africa, who will host the continent’s first ever World Cup finals a few months later.

Mashingaidze maintains that the last-minute submission of the bid was not out of half-heartedness and fear of failure, but a deliberate move to make sure the bidding committee comes out with the best possible proposition.

Taking into account the turbulent economic situation that has had a severe effect on just about every sector in the country, Zimbabweans could be subjected to rejection again after the tournament was taken away from them in 2000 and given to joint hosts Nigeria and Ghana.

Zimbabwe has only three grounds that meet Nations Cup standards – the National Sports Stadium and Rufaro in Harare and Bulawayo’s Barbourfields Stadium.

That means a fourth stadium has to be constructed inside three years. The minimum requirement for the Nations Cup is to have four stadiums.

No building has been completed in Harare since 2002 as the foreign currency shortage has taken a massive toll. Most building materials are imported.

Any host would want to spread the tournament to most of its major cities, but for Zimbabwe, besides the substandard facilities in the other centres, there is a risk of travelling and logistical problems because of the current fuel shortages, which might weigh heavily against the Zimbabwe bid.

Mashingaidze, however, believes the Nations Cup bid is an opportunity for Zimbabwe to attend to some of its problems.

“It is an opportunity for the country to speed up socio-economic development,” Mashingaidze said. “It is a wake-up call for us to have our problems attended to.”

On the facilities at hand, Mashingaidze said Caf should be “very reasonable” when they determine who hosts the event in 2010.

“I think Africa being Africa, we will always be having problems. Some of the poorest countries in Africa have hosted the Nations Cup. I believe that while there is need to improve our own facilities, you still cannot compare us with the likes of previous hosts like Mali.

“Even Cameroon and Nigeria who are continental powerhouses do not have quality stadia in their countries.”

This week, Zimbabwe appeared to have the backing of Cosafa secretary-general Ashford Mamelodi, who was in the country as a Fifa representative to assess Fifa projects and the Zifa roadmap.

Mamelodi told a news conference in Harare on Wednesday: “Cosafa has not (yet) taken a position regarding the bid. But since Zimbabwe have tried before, I think they will make a strong bid.

“If they (Zifa) make the bid I think they will succeed. Personally, I will be more familiar with Zimbabwe, maybe I relate to Zimbabwe more.”

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