Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA has one week left to convince Fifa to lift the country’s suspension and allow the Warriors to participate in the 2023 Afcon qualifiers.
Caf gave Zimbabwe up to next Thursday to get the suspension lifted by the world governing football body.
Fifa suspended Zimbabwe from participating in international football citing Government interference after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended the entire Zifa board for maladministration.
Last month Zifa councillors met and unanimously agreed to revoke the mandates of president Felton Kamambo, board members Phillimon Machana, Bryton Malandule and Stanley Chapeta, while absolving Farai Jere, Sugar Chagonda and Barbra Chikosi.
Gift Banda, who had been shut out by the Kamambo board despite being cleared by the disciplinary committee of any wrongdoing, was also engaged by the councillors to lead the board in an acting capacity.
The board was mandated to engage the SRC as well as Fifa, so that the country is readmitted to international football.
According to sources within Zifa and the SRC, the Zifa board has appealed to the SRC to lift the suspension of the association’s chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse so that he starts communicating with Fifa, as well as that of Jere, Chikosi and Chagonda.
Mamutse was suspended alongside SRC director-general Prince Mupazviriho to pave way for a probe into how the pair allegedly cleared a number of national teams clandestinely for assignments outside the country without following Covid-19 protocols.
Mamutse also faced charges related to the manner in which Zimbabwe was left embarrassed after the national Under-17 side was kicked out of the Cosafa tournament for age-cheating.
Mamutse’s bid to return to work via the Adinistrative Court hit a brickwall at the beginning of the week when his case was dismissed with costs.
The only hope for Mamutse to return to office is if the SRC lifts his suspension, something that the Zifa board prays for to initiate contact with Fifa.
Sources said since Caf told Zimbabwe to get their suspension lifted two weeks before the start of the Afcon qualifiers, SRC told the Zifa board to inform Fifa about the football decision made by football people.
The SRC is said to have told the Banda-led board that it will support the councillors’ decision only if it was done within the confines of the constitution.
The SRC also wants to clean up Zimbabwean football and instituted a forensic audit of Zifa last week.
“Zifa was told to communicate their football decision or solution to Fifa and the SRC is just waiting to hear from them. What the SRC said was that it will recognise the football solution if it is proven that it was done within the confines of the constitution. The SRC is forging ahead with the forensic audit,” said the source.
On Zimbabwe’s participation in the Afcon qualifiers, the source said Zifa has been silently working on engaging a local coach who will take charge of the team in the group opener against Liberia on June 9 as well as against South
Africa on June 13. The Warriors are scheduled to play Morocco in September.
“The board and councillors have hope that the country will be admitted for the Afcon qualifiers. They’ve been working on engaging a coach and players have been identified and once the suspension is lifted, it’s all systems go,” said a source.
However, should Zifa fail to get the ban lifted, it will continue working on getting the junior national teams to compete in international events, while waiting to return for the 2025 Afcon qualifiers.
Zifa acting spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said they will comment when the time is right, while the SRC said they will revert to questions in due course, as they keep the nation guessing. — @ZililoR