Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
COSAFA have set Thursday as the day when ZIFA would be hauled before their disciplinary committee for reneging on an agreement to host this year’s senior men’s tournament.
The move has left the regional body in a quandary over where to stage their flagship football competition.
ZIFA president Felton Kamambo told The Herald on Friday his executive had given up hopes on hosting the tournament this year’s after failing to persuade the government to change its stance.
But it has emerged ZIFA had, despite failing to secure a government guarantee, indicated to COSAFA they would still go ahead and stage the tournament.
It is on the back of these indications they were getting from ZIFA that the regional body remained hopeful that the COSAFA Cup, for which the Warriors are the defending champions, would be hosted in this country.
COSAFA at the weekend responded to the announcement by ZIFA and revealed they had set April 4 as the date of the disciplinary hearing.
The disciplinary committee would then make public their judgment, 48 hours after the sitting. COSAFA have, however, given ZIFA a last-gasp chance to escape disciplinary sanctions should they remedy the situation before Thursday and avert the hearing.
“The venue for the 2019 edition of the COSAFA Senior tournament, scheduled from May 25th to June 8th 2019, remains undecided.
“Zimbabwe Football Association is now in breach of their Hosting Agreement, signed by ZIFA late in January 2019, and returned to COSAFA.
“Following a Board meeting convened on 9th March in Zimbabwe, ZIFA reconfirmed their commitment to host the tournament in Zimbabwe, irrespective of whether they received Government funding and guarantees.
“ZIFA management committed to presenting to COSAFA written confirmation of this decision no later than March 25th 2019. Unfortunately, they failed to deliver on the nominated deadline which has left COSAFA with no recourse other than to enforce their disciplinary procedures which process calls for ZIFA to attend a disciplinary hearing scheduled for 4th April in Johannesburg.
“The hearing will be handled by COSAFA’s independent judicial body, and the outcome and punitive action will be handed down within 48 hours of the hearing.
“COSAFA is particularly disturbed by the management of the process by ZIFA by 2019 is a critically pivotal year for football in the Sub Saharan region.
“For the first time in 21 years 5 COSAFA member countries have qualified to participate in the continental show-piece, including Zimbabwe’s celebrated Warriors.
“The COSAFA Senior Tournament has consistently proved to be a vibrant platform of opportunity for all competing countries, and in 2019 has become a key factor in pre-AFCON preparation for the successful qualifiers, with coaches and team management planning to use the COSAFA tournament to fine-tune their training prior to the AFCON June 21st kick-off,’’ COSAFA said.
Coach Sunday Chidzambwa has already made no secret of his intentions to use the COSAFA Cup as a major platform for his team’s Nations Cup preparations given the competition guarantees his Warriors, at least, three competitive games in the run-up to the continental showpiece in Egypt.