Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA have not given up hopes of staging the 2019 COSAFA Cup tournament and have embarked on a re-engagement drive with the Government and the regional body’s authorities to try and find a breakthrough. The Government announced last month, through the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry, that it was not ready to host Southern Africa’s flagship tournament this year.
Coventry cited short notice among one of the main reasons why they had turned down the ZIFA bid. The tournament is scheduled to start on May 19 and run until June 1.
But a ray of hope has filtered that the competition could yet still return to Zimbabwe, 10 years after the country last hosted the tourney.
ZIFA board member finance Philemon Machana confirmed yesterday the association had resolved to re-engage both the COSAFA leadership and Government.
“We discussed it and resolved to engage COSAFA further after realising we were bound to face sanctions for the last-minute withdrawal.
“They (Government) made the decision (to reject the bid) as a ministry and we are still deciding how best to approach the issue,’’ Machana said.
ZIFA are also understood to be planning on sending a delegation to South Africa for further discussions with COSAFA secretary-general Sue Destombes and her team.
The association has also received support from the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association, who even petitioned the High Court over the matter.
“We were very disappointed to hear about the decision related to the COSAFA Cup,’’ said ZNSSA leader Eddie “Mboma’’ Nyatanga.
“As soccer supporters, we believe this was going to be a perfect platform for our Government to showcase the Warriors, for two weeks, in front of their own fans.
“It was a perfect platform to help the Warriors cement their bond with all Zimbabweans. Football has the power to unite people and we believe that these Warriors have the capacity to unite the people by being the host team in the COSAFA Cup.
“This tournament also presents us with a chance to showcase our hospitality, as a nation, when all those countries bring their senior teams here.’’