Cheers for Cricket, Hope for Football

THE decision by the Government to allow the Chevrons to travel to Pakistan has been hailed as a huge sign that international sport could be on its way back in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Cricket chairman, Tavengwa Mukuhlani, was ecstatic yesterday after getting the green-light to resume international assignments.

Domestic cricket, which has also been in limbo, is set to resume next week.

The joy was also felt across within the football family.

ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo, said the move by the Government provided hope for local and international football could also be on the horizon.

The Government banned domestic sport, and barred all national teams from touring, under the national Covid-19 lockdown measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

ZIFA want domestic football to return as well as for the Warriors to be given permission to travel for international friendly matches next month.

They want to prepare for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Algeria in November.

Zimbabwe Cricket are now certain of ending a seven-month period of inactivity after the Sports Commission gave them the green-light to tour Pakistan.

The Chevrons are expected to travel to Pakistan next month for a limited-overs series.

It features three One Day Internationals and as many T20 Internationals.

ZC also received further good news that they can now start preparing for the domestic cricket season, which is set to get underway next week.

Mukuhlani hailed the Government for authorising the tour and also giving them the nod to organise domestic cricket matches.

“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, the Honourable Kirsty Coventry, the SRC and the entire Government of Zimbabwe for authorising the tour,” said Mukuhlani.

“Needless to say, we at ZC are bursting with excitement as we look forward to playing cricket again and representing our nation with pride and passion in Pakistan.”

The Chevrons will be playing for the first time, since March, when many countries across the world banned sporting activities, and international travel, as part of lockdown measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The Chevrons will face Pakistan in three one-day international matches and as many Twenty20 international games, starting late next month.

The ODI matches, which will be part of the inaugural ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, are scheduled for October 30, November 1 and 3.

The T20I series is pencilled in for November 7, 8 and 10.

Zimbabwe have since intensified their preparations for the tour, with a provisional squad of 25 players, having been called up for a training camp that started in Harare on Tuesday.

The Sports Commission emphasised the need to ensure Covid-19 preventative and containment measures are observed at all times for the safety of both the players and officials during the tour.

“The Sports and Recreation Commission hereby gives you notice, following your application, that the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation has approved your request to tour Pakistan to play the referenced matches,” director general, Prince Mupazviriho, wrote in a letter to ZC.

While the Government remains strict on the coronavirus health and safety guidelines, ZIFA yesterday said they have more reasons to believe football could also be played under the same conditions.

“Whichever way you are going to look at this, I think this is a very positive development for sport because, if other disciplines are starting to get the clearance, it only means all those who meet the Government requirements for compliance also have good chances of getting the nod to resume sports,” said Kamambo.

“We are happy for cricket. Remember they are one of the biggest sport codes in the country and it’s worthwhile to note they are almost in the same boat with football. So, for cricket to get the nod, it also gives us hope.

“The bottom line remains that all sports codes have to meet the basic health and safety requirements, of which I think we have done our best in that regard, and we are ready for the game to resume.

“The Ministry has recommended that football should return in a “bio-bubble” environment, on top of the return to playing protocols that we have come up with and which we have submitted.

“The ZIFA board sat down over the weekend and we made some resolutions, in as far as the recommendations that we got from the Ministry, are concerned.

“We also made some more recommendations that the approval from the Government should come with the resumption of football in all leagues.

“We are ready with the presentations and, right now, we are waiting for the opportunity to go back to the Ministry and discuss our resolutions.”

ZIFA desperately want football back because of the upcoming AFCON qualifiers which will see Zimbabwe taking on champions Algeria in back-to-back Group H encounters.

Kamambo confirmed the football mother body were working on proposals for international friendlies against Kenya and Malawi mid-next month, which will need Government approval.

“We are arranging international friendlies for the Warriors and we have been in touch with Kenya and Malawi.

“We are also hoping to participate at the COSAFA Cup, at least, to give our technical team more opportunities to work with the team before we play the AFCON qualifiers.”

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