By Grace Chingoma
Zimbabwe, who have dominated the COSAFA Cup, will not have an opportunity to add to their trophy haul this year after the regional competition was cancelled.
The Warriors are record holders with six titles.
But, due to a congested calendar caused by the coronavirus lockdown, the COSAFA Cup has been shelved.
However, the women’s edition of the tourney will be played next month.
The Mighty Warriors have already confirmed their participation.
According to the regional body’s website, it was too late to utilise the October FIFA date for the men’s tournament.
“Sadly, this news has come too late to allow for the COSAFA Cup, with too little preparation time available to utilise the October FIFA International window, and a packed international calendar, to the end of the year with the resumption of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in November,” said a statement from the COSAFA website.
Sunday Chidzambwa is the most successful coach in the competition, having led the Warriors to four titles in 2003, 2009 and 2017 and 2018.
His brother Misheck won the first COSAFA Cup for Zimbabwe in 2000.
Former Warriors coach, Charles Mhlauri, led the Warriors to regional glory in 2005.
The Mighty Warriors will shake off their long lay-off at the tournament, which will be held at Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa from November 3 to 14.
A total of eight teams have confirmed their participation.
These are the hosts South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Comoros, Angola and Malawi. Namibia and Eswatini are awaiting government approval to travel.
“East African nation Kenya have requested a guest place in the tournament, while Mauritius remains doubtful.
“Madagascar, Seychelles and Mozambique have declined, and Lesotho has yet to commit to taking part.
“The COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship is also scheduled be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay concurrently with the senior tournament, but in a reduced format, most likely with four to six teams.
“East African nation Tanzania has expressed an interest in taking part,” said COSAFA.
It is not clear whether the Young Mighty Warriors will also compete at the tournament which will run concurrently with the senior team.
ZIFA president, has already pledged support for women’s football.
COSAFA said the men’s junior teams will proceed next year.
“That leaves the two zonal qualifiers that provide Southern Africa’s entrants into the continental finals of the Under-17, and Under-20, Confederation of African Football competitions to be played next year.
“The COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship is pencilled in to be played in South Africa from November 19-29, with the host city still to be determined.
“The two finalists of the competition will qualify for the continental finals in Morocco in July 2021.
“The COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship will now no longer take place in Mauritius after the island nation withdrew from hosting due to current Covid-19 regulations and is now planned to also take place in South Africa from December 3-13.
“Twelve nations have confirmed their participation, though Seychelles and Madagascar, who will not take part in any COSAFA events in 2020, have declined the invitation. Mauritius have also yet to confirm if they will take part.’’ The Herald