By Ricky Zililo
ZIMBABWE will not send developmental teams to the Cosafa Under-17 and Under-20 tournaments, with Zifa citing the prevailing economic challenges.
The comes against the backdrop of frosty relations between Zifa and the regional body, after the former had their attempts to recall Cosafa president, Philip Chiyangwa, snubbed.
Both Cosafa and Zifa confirmed that Zimbabwe will not be represented at the inaugural edition of the girls’ Under-17 finals to be held in Mauritius from September 20-29.
Zimbabwe will also miss out the boys’ Under-17 finals to be held in Blantyre, Malawi, from October 11-20.
“We received a letter from Zifa earlier this week advising us that Zimbabwe will not participate in the 2019 editions of the Cosafa Under-17 and Under-20 Youth Championships. It is the prerogative of any association to participate or not and is not in itself unusual,” said Sue Destombes, the Cosafa secretary-general.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said withdrawal of junior teams was part of the association’s “austerity measures” meant to “cut costs”.
However, the move to withdraw development teams could return to haunt the senior teams, as the group of players that could have benefitted from exposure in regional competitions would have missed out.
“Due to the harsh economic environment we will not be sending any junior teams for regional tournaments. Zifa operates within dynamics of the economy and as such, we have not been spared by economic challenges. The move to withdraw from these Cosafa tournaments is part of the austerity measures to cut costs,” said Gwesela.
He could not be drawn into commenting on whether Zifa’s withdrawal was related to the association’s US$200 000 fine by Cosafa for pulling out of hosting the senior men’s 2019 edition at the 11th hour.
Zifa argued that the commitment to host the Cosafa Cup was made by the Chiyangwa-led board and accused him of misleading Cosafa that Zifa already had government backing to host the tournament. The Chronicle