Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA has withdrawn the Warriors from the 2017 Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) tournament to be held in Kenya citing the volatile political situation in that country.
The Warriors were set to depart for Kenya on Sunday.
“Following wide ranging consultations with all stakeholders, the Zimbabwe Football Association has resolved to withdraw its commitment to participate in the 2017 Cecafa games due to the security risk posed by the volatile situation currently in the host country Kenya. As a result, Zifa has immediately suspended all preparations related to the commitment made earlier.
“Zifa reiterates its commitment to fulfil all future tournaments and matches, provided the environment does not in any way risk the safety of participating teams. The withdrawal from such a prestigious tournament is unfortunate for us, the team, the nation and the tournament organisers, but the association had to make the complex decision in the best interest of all involved,” read a Zifa statement released yesterday.
The association said it remained committed to its mandate of organising competitive matches for all national teams, while at the same time ensuring the safety of every participant.
“Zifa is open to future similar engagements with Cecafa and other sub-regional bodies because such tournaments afford national teams with invaluable competitive game time and hence unreservedly apologises to the tournament organisers, sponsors, the team, supporters and other stakeholders for all inconveniences caused by this sudden development,” read the statement.
Zimbabwe had been drawn in Group B alongside Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Burundi, while Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Libya and Zanzibar are in Group A.
Zimbabwe’s withdrawal will be a blessing in disguise for FC Platinum, who would have missed four key players for their Castle Challenge Cup against Chibuku Super Cup winners Harare City set for Mandava Stadium on Saturday.
The 2017 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions had Kevin Moyo, Gerald Takwara, Rodwell Chinyengetere and Ali Sadiki in the squad called up by caretaker coach Sunday Chidzambwa.