BY TERRY MADYAUTA ACTING Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) president Gift Banda has pleaded with players and fans to be patient with the “reform process” amid fury after the Warriors were kicked out of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers which start next month.
The Zifa boss has attempted to douse the flames by promising bliss after the restructuring process is complete, but few are buying t hat.
Zimbabwe was booted out of the Fifa family due to government interference in Zifa matters, after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) dissolved football board.
With the country having failed to resolve its issues ahead of the start of the qualifiers, Confederation of African Football announced this week that the Warriors had been booted out of the competition.
SRC has refused to yield by reinstating the Felton Kamambo-led board, claiming it wanted to “cleanse the system”.
The impasse has hard hit players, who have been left out in the cold as other nations brace for the Afcon qualifiers, ahead of the tournament which will be held in Ivory Coast next year.
And Banda, who only returned to the forefront of Zifa after his suspension was lifted at a rather ill-fated extra ordinary meeting held last month, is urging all stakeholders to keep calm.
“We feel the pain of the fans, and our players, who have found themselves on the side lines, especially with regards to our absence from the qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals,” Banda said in a statement.
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“But we also appeal to them to understand and appreciate that for us to prioritise participation in international tournaments, right now, when our house is on shaky ground, will not be beneficial for our football.
“I, therefore, appeal for patience and everyone involved in football to let the reform process take its course because, in the end, the mission will be for the benefit of all who are part of our beautiful game.
“Crucially, it will be for the benefit of future generations, our next generation of Warriors who, in the previous set-up, have found themselves on the side lines without being exposed to the international tournaments, of their age-groups, to help in their development.”
“Admittedly, it is painful that our country will, for the first time, not participate in the qualifiers of Africa’ flagship tournament.
“But it is of paramount importance to emphasise that there is a myriad of problems bedevilling our beautiful game and authorities have embarked on firm corrective measures to reform the game.
“These fundamental and deep-seated problems require the concerted efforts of all stakeholders in order to resolve them,” Banda added.
- Follow Terry on Twitter@madyautatpm