Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA’S pending disciplinary case with COSAFA over an alleged breach of a hosting agreement has meant that the association cannot conclusively seal deals for build-up matches for the AFCON finals.
The Warriors could still be allowed to defend their regional title.
They were drawn in Group A to face hosts Egypt, DRC and Uganda in the tournament that gets underway in Cairo on June 21.
Although ZIFA officials are lining up friendly matches for the Warriors ahead of the Nations Cup, the team could be guaranteed three games should Zimbabwe escape suspension.
ZIFA could, however, be handed a fine of up to US$1 million, the heaviest financial punishment slapped on the country’s football controlling body, should they be found to have breached the agreement to host this year’s COSAFA Cup.
Domestic football leaders have been made to wait a little longer before they know the outcome of their disciplinary hearing at COSAFA after it emerged the regional body are only likely to make a decision at the end of this week or next week.
Acting ZIFA vice president Philemon Machana led a three-member delegation, which included chief executive Joseph Mamutse and lawyer Chenaimoyo Gumiro.
“The COSAFA issue is subjudice for now such that we may not comment. Be that as it may, it is our wish that ZIFA will not be punished by COSAFA,’’ said Machana.
“Our lawyer is working on our submissions and we will soon know the verdict.
“With regards the effect on preparations and extra activity, naturally it takes away our levels of concentration on the bigger picture, but we are a team and, as an executive, we can share work and be deployed in a way that we will be able to attend to all issues that require our focus and input.
“However, the COSAFA legal issues are things that we would have been happy not to be bogged down with and we are sure everyone concerned and involved feels the same way.’’
COSAFA secretary-general Sue Destombes said her organisation were currently in talks with two associations to secure a host of the competition amid indications that the South African city of Durban could step up to the plate. Destombes also indicated that should ZIFA be sanctioned, there is a provision for them to appeal, but this would not delay the staging of the competition.
“COSAFA is currently in discussion with two associations regarding the possibility of their hosting of the COSAFA Cup bearing in mind the short timeframe
“It is crucial that we retain the dates so that the COSAFA Cup fulfils the role it is meant to, (that is) pre-AFCON preparation, as well as preparation for the other associations who will be qualifying for CHAN immediately following AFCON.
“Yes, the decision (of the disciplinary board) can be appealed. The appeal shall have no delaying effect except in financial matters or fines,’’ Destombes said.