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Zifa troubles set to cost Warriors …national team to lose out on Afcon 2023

KEVIN MAPASURE
THE Warriors look set to miss out on the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers after Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) board chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa (pictured) ruled out an immediate lifting of the suspension imposed on the Zifa board, which Fifa has demanded, before the restructuring committee completes its mandate.

SRC appointed a restructuring committee to oversee the roadmap towards new Zifa elections after the Felton Kamambo-led board was dissolved last year.

Felton Kamambo

With Zifa having been banned by Fifa from all football activities over government interference in the running of the game, this week Caf afforded the Warriors a window of opportunity to participate in the Afcon qualifiers by including them in the draw.

Zimbabwe was drawn together with neighbours South Africa, Morocco and Liberia in Group K, but Zifa only have about two weeks to put their house in order.

Caf gave Zimbabwe until two weeks before the qualifiers, otherwise they will be struck off the campaign.

Zimbabwe has been drawn to kick off with a home match against Liberia on May 30 and they will complete the qualifiers with another home clash with Bafana.

But all that looks unlikely unless there is a dramatic twist in the events.

Mlotshwa said everything depended on what progress the restructuring committee can make and the recommendations they suggest to the Zifa congress.

“For Afcon 2023, much will depend on the progress made by the restructuring committee and any adoption of their recommendations by Zifa congress,” Mlotshwa said.

The Zifa congress is set to meet in Harare tomorrow where it is likely to revoke the mandate of certain board members, including Kamambo, Bryton Malandule and Philemon Machana.

The key question about the EGM is whether Fifa will endorse the meeting and its resolutions.

Meanwhile, Bafana coach Hugo Broos sees Liberia and Zimbabwe as no threat to their ambitions to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Ivory Coast. The Belgian reckons Morocco are the team to beat in Group K.

According to online TimesLIVE, Broos said he was looking at winning against Liberia and Zimbabwe while avoiding defeat against Morocco.

“It is clear that Morocco are the best team in our group. They were in the Afcon in January, they were eliminated by Egypt and they are a very good team,” Broos told the media. “I think if we want to be first in our group, we have to beat Morocco. On the other side, there is Zimbabwe.”

He added that: “We played against Zimbabwe during the qualifiers for the World Cup. We know them very well, we played two times against them last year (won 1-0 at home and drew 0-0 away), and so they are a tough team. But this is a team we have to beat.

“We are better than we were a few months ago. So, I think if we can beat them twice, it will be (a) very good (outcome) for us.

“Liberia, for me, are a team I don’t know yet. I don’t know the players, so it is up to us in the coming weeks to look at their games. Maybe Liberia are the weakest team in the group. But it is always dangerous to underestimate an opponent. So for that, first of all, we are going to look at their games, their last few games, see how good they are.

“There are players we know, there are some other players, one in Holland, for example, a striker, and we saw his last game. So, we need to look after that again and maybe other guys who are playing in Sweden, so we have to also look at their games and then decide if those guys can be with us in June,” Broos said.

The Warriors currently do not have a coach after Norman Mapeza’s contract expired at the end of the 2021 Afcon finals that were held in Cameroon early this year.

Norman Mapeza

Even if they were to play in these qualifiers they face a tough road as Zimbabwe is banned from hosting international matches due to substandard stadiums.

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