Reprieve for Zim as CAF includes Warriors in AFCON qualifiers draw
Despite serving a FIFA ban, Zimbabwe has been handed a huge relief by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group stage draw.
The relief comes after CAF included the Warriors to be part of the 48 teams that are going to be drawn for the 2023 Nations Cup group stages draw slated for next week Tuesday in South Africa.
Apart from Zimbabwe, the Harambee Stars of Kenya who are also serving a FIFA ban have also been included.
The 34th Edition of the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations will be held in July 2023 in Cote d’Ivoire.
“Reference to the suspension of Kenya and Zimbabwe by FIFA from all football activities, in case the suspension is not lifted two (2) weeks before their first matchday of the qualifiers; both associations will be considered as losers and eliminated from the competition,” said CAF in a statement.
“Consequently, their groups will be composed of three teams. The first and runner-up teams of those groups will qualify to the final tournament.
“Consequently, the two teams (Kenya & Zimbabwe) cannot be drawn in the same group in order to avoid having one group with only two teams in case the suspension on both associations is not lifted,” further read the statement.
CAF’s decision comes two weeks after members of the world governing body endorsed the suspension of Zimbabwe and Kenya together with Pakistan at a Congress in Doha, Qatar on March 31.
It is widely reported that 199 members present at the congress voted ‘yes’ to ratify Zimbabwe’s suspension while 198 and 195 delegates voted for Kenya and Pakistan respectively.
Initially, Zimbabwe were suspended by FIFA in February owing to government interference, a move deemed contrary to the FIFA statutes.
The suspension was confirmed in a letter issued by their Secretary General Fatma Samoura on 24 February, 2022.
“In accordance with article 13 of the FIFA Statutes, ZIFA loses all its membership rights as of 24 February 2022 until further notice,” reads part of the letter signed by Samoura.
But to lift the suspension, FIFA placed conditions for Zimbabwe including the reinstatement of the Felton Kamambo led board which was suspended by the government arm the SRC on the 16th of November in 2021.
FIFA also implored the SRC to reinstate the ZIFA chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse who was also suspended by the same board in 2020.
However, the SRC has defiantly refused to abide by the FIFA instructions, citing they want to ‘fix’ football in Zimbabwe.