ZIMBABWE National Soccer Supporters Association’s leadership have pleaded with Government to reverse its decision not to guarantee ZIFA’s bid to host the 2019 COSAFA Cup this year.
Eddie “Mboma” Nyatanga, the ZNSSA leader, said there had been a huge outcry from their members after revelations the country will not host the tournament.
The government, citing short notice given to underwrite the staging of the competition, announced on Monday they could not guarantee ZIFA’s bid to host Southern Africa’s flagship soccer tournament.
COSAFA had wanted to stage their biggest tournament, in history, this year from May 19 to June 1.
Zimbabwe last hosted the tournament in 2009.
Nyatanga said the majority of football fans had been disappointed at losing the opportunity of watching their Warriors in action at home with ZIFA having wanted to use their best players, in the event the country qualified for the 2019 AFCON finals.
Nyatanga said he would lead an appeal to the Government for a possible change of stance by the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation.
“We are very disappointed to hear about the decision related to the COSAFA Cup. 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,” Nyatanga said.
The ZNSSA leader said it was inconceivable that a nation that hosted the Barcelona Legends could not host the COSAFA Cup.
“These Warriors are our real heroes. But we have seen a lot of money being splashed to bring the Barcelona Legends, a grouping of retired footballers, and yet we cannot do the same for our Warriors,” said Nyatanga.
“I am personally going to engage Government, on behalf of the supporters, and ask that the position be reviewed and that, as a nation, we mobilise resources to host that tournament in May.”
Warriors cheerleader, Chris “Romario” Musekiwa, also felt staging of the tournament in Zimbabwe would not just benefit ZIFA and the Warriors but the country as a whole.
“This kind of tournament is a big opportunity to put the country on the map. When you host such tournaments, all the focus in African football will be on this country and we can showcase our culture, our tourism sites and everything Zimbabwean,” he said.
In announcing the government position Youth Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry said they felt the country was not being given enough time to prepare a classy event as requested by COSAFA.
According to Coventry, the country was still open to hosting the event in the future.
“We have had some deliberations this morning and we needed to come to the media and the country and let you know of some of the outcomes.
“The main discussions were on and around the hosting of the COSAFA tournament and it’s been agreed that at this time the deal was not just very good for the country or for ZIFA.
“So, we will not be hosting the COSAFA games this year. But we look forward to having adequate time to be able to host a world class event in the near future.
“We want to make sure that when we do host an event of this magnitude that we are fully prepared, we have good timing. We just don’t feel that was given to us this time around,” Coventry said.
Source : The Herald