By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Cash-strapped Zifa have been handed a US$200 000 fine and provisional suspension by the Cosafa disciplinary committee for revoking its right to host the 2019 edition of the regional bloc’s men’s senior tournament.
The tournament will now be hosted by neighbouring South Africa in the coastal city of Durban later this month.
In a verdict handed down yesterday, US$150 000 has been suspended on condition that Zifa commits to hosting the 2020 edition of the tournament within the next two months.
“Cosafa have announced the verdict of their disciplinary body into the sanction handed down to the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) for their failure to honour an agreement to host the 2019 Cosafa Cup.
“Zifa have received a conditional suspension from Cosafa, but can remedy the situation within two months if they confirm the country as hosts of the 2020 Cosafa Cup, and provide the already signed guarantees from the Zimbabwe Government to this effect. Failure to do so will see the association suspended,” reads a Cosafa statement released yesterday.
The two-month grace period allows the national team to compete in the 2019 Cosafa Cup in Durban from May 25 to June 8.
The Cosafa disciplinary body was chaired by Antonio Caetano de Sousa and included Adrian Kashala and Daud Suleman.
Zimbabwe gave up the right to host the tournament after Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry cited short notice as the major reason for declining the offer to play host to this year’s tournament.
“We want to make sure that when we do host an event of this magnitude, we are fully prepared, we have good timing. We just don’t feel that was given to us this time around. So, moving forward, we will continue to work closely with Zifa in terms of what the next steps are and what the future holds in terms of hosting the event,” Coventry said in March when the decision to pull out of hosting the tournament was announced.
Meanwhile, the draw for this year Cosafa Cup will be conducted tonight in South Africa. Madagascar is the only country among the 14 Cosafa members that declined the invitation to participate in the tournament and has been replaced by Total Africa Cup of Nations-bound Uganda.
“The Cranes have qualified for back-to-back continental championships and will provide an exciting extra dimension to the field in Durban. The format for the competition will be the same as in previous years, with the eight lowest-ranked sides to be drawn into two pools each containing four sides.
“The top two teams in those pools will advance to the quarter-finals, where they will take on the six higher-ranked nations. The six seeded sides are Botswana, Lesotho, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and defending champions Zimbabwe,” read the Cosafa statement.
This year’s Cosafa Cup will also provide vital preparation for teams heading to the Nations Cup in Egypt from June 21 to July 19.
For the first time in 21 years, Cosafa has its largest pool of representatives in the Afcon finals. Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Madagascar will be regional body’s torch bearers at the continental football showpiece. The Chronicle