The national Under-17 team could become the latest victim of the Zimbabwe Football Association’s (Zifa) bungling with revelations that the association is yet to secure funding for the African Under-17 Championships qualifiers that begin this weekend.
Report by Michael Madyira
The Young Warriors host Mozambique at Gwanzura Stadium on Saturday in the first round of the qualifiers before they travel for the away tie two weeks later.
Last month the national Under-20 team failed to fulfill a second leg away fixture in Angola for their second round bid for a place at the African Youth Championships due to a lack of funds.
Now their junior counterparts face a bleak future with Zifa still uncertain where they would get funding for the team.
Morocco will host the Under-17 championships in April next year where all semi-finalists would be guaranteed places at that age group’s World Cup which would then be held in the United Arab Emirates six months later.
What has proven to be a puzzle to Zifa is that they have to deal with two national sides at the same time, as the juniors’ match would be played 24 hours before the senior national team hosts Angola in a crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier match.
Zifa chief executive officer, Jonathan Mashingaidze, said the association was yet to raise US$20 000 to host Mozambique and as much for the return where the youths would travel by road.
“We are still in the process of mobilising resources,” said Mashingaidze.
“The problem we are facing is that these youngsters have no mileage to attract sponsors from the corporate world. Another blow for us is that the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture has made it clear that they are only able to fund the men and women’s senior national teams.”
European scouts frequent African youth football competitions which are regarded as a fertile hunting ground for talent.
Mashingaidze dismissed assertions that junior national teams were usually taken for granted by football authorities.
The previous Zifa administration withdrew all youth football national teams including women’s teams from the last editions.
If Zimbabwe gets past Mozambique, they would meet 2011 third-place finishers Congo Brazzaville whose strength has also been underlined by receiving a bye in the first round.
Zimbabwe has qualified for this competition three times before in 1997, 1999 and 2005 where they have failed to get past the group stages.