By Robson Sharuko
The inquest into the Warriors’ doomed 2019 AFCON finals campaign might only be beginning but by next week the country will already know the opposition it will face to try and qualify, for the first time in its history, to three straight editions of this tournament.
The next AFCON finals will be held in Cameroon in 2021.
The Confederation of African Football announced yesterday that the draw for the 2021 Nations Cup will be held here on Thursday next week, the same day the organisation will also be holding its 32nd Ordinary General Assembly meeting.
ZIFA president Felton Kamambo is expected to attend that meeting as he continues his bid to move a gear up in his rise in the corridors of power, on both the domestic and continental front, by landing one of the CAF executive committee posts at the same indaba.
Kamambo was a rank outsider in the ZIFA leadership battle in December last year but powered to a shock victory over incumbent Philip Chiyangwa and now has to beat the challenge of Elvis Chetty of the Seychelles, Andrew Kamanga of Zambia, Adam “Bomber” Mthetwa of Swaziland and Mohamed Sobha of Mauritius for the CAF executive committee post.
That seat is reserved for the COSAFA membership whose organisational profile has been boosted here by Madagascar’s Cinderella tale in reaching the 2019 AFCON quarter-finals, in their debut show at this tournament, and South Africa’s elimination of hosts Egypt.
Zambian football legend Kalusha Bwalya was the occupant of that seat but will not contest the polls set for next Thursday.
Kamambo’s endorsement to fight for the CAF executive committee post can be considered a huge achievement given that, only six months ago, he was a virtual unknown in the corridors of African football as he wandered in the wilderness of the domestic game, having quit his post as a ZIFA board member in March last year, and trying to have his ban from the sport overturned.
“It’s a huge honour to be part of these people who have been shortlisted for this very powerful and important position in the administration of our game,” he told The Herald when the names of the candidates were unveiled.
“Obviously, what this says is that there are a lot of people who are watching what am doing back home and have been impressed by the work I have done in the short space of time I have been the leader of ZIFA.’’
His nomination for the CAF executive committee post has also come at a time when his leadership of ZIFA is being questioned, in some quarters back home, including the Sports Commission, about the way the association organised the country’s participation at this year’s AFCON finals show.
ZIFA have been given up to this Friday to answer certain questions raised by the Sports Commission.
The Warriors, who just like at the 2017 AFCON finals, only picked up a point from their three group matches here, were in Pot 3 during the draw for this tournament, ranked 25th, and were in the company of Libya, Botswana, Niger, Benin, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Sudan, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic, Burundi and Tanzania.
Zimbabwe was one of just five countries, the others being Burundi, Benin, Guinea Bissau and Tanzania, who made it to this AFCON finals from that Pot 3.
Mozambique, Gabon, Togo, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia, who were ranked higher in Pot 2, failed to qualify for this tournament.
It’s likely the Warriors, despite their failed 2019 AFCON finals show, will be ranked higher and possibly in Pot 2 at the draw for the 2021 tournament.
The Tanzanians, who marked their return to the continent’s football tournament here after a 41-year absence, have become the latest country to sack their gaffer as the high price of AFCON failure continues to devour coaches across the continent.
Nigerian football legend Emmanuel Amunike is the latest to fall by the wayside — just four months after being hailed as a hero for ending Tanzania’s lengthy wait for a return to the finals.
The Taifa Stars lost all their group matches here, including a painful 2-3 defeat to bitter rivals Kenya, and Amuneke was fingered as the fall guy for their lifeless return to the big time in which they were also beaten by Senegal and Algeria. The events in Dar es Salaam continue a trend that has seen coaches, whose teams didn’t perform to expectations at this Nations Cup finals, being sacrificed with the Egyptians firing their Mexican gaffer, Javier Aguirre, just two hours after their defeat by South Africa.
The entire Egyptian Football Association also collapsed, after the resignation of its president and board members, while Uganda parted ways with their French coach, Sebastien Desabre, who has quickly moved to join ambitious Egyptian side Pyramids and was unveiled yesterday. The Herald