Following an embarrassing exit from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualification, Zimbabwe is preparing a formidable 2016 Olympic Games soccer squad packed with international stars.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
Qualification for the quadrennial global sports fiesta has become Zifa’s immediate major focus after September’s Cosafa Cup.
Monaco trialist tear-away winger Kudakwashe Mahachi, AS Nancy midfielder Marvelous Nakamba and Sweden-based linkman Archford Gutu are eligible for the Olympics. Teenage sensation Macauley Bonne of English League One side Colchester United has also availed himself.
The 18-year-old forward was born in England to Zimbabwean parents.
“All players participating in the preliminary and final competition of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 shall be born on or after January 1 1993, with the exception of a maximum of three players who do not meet this age limit who may also be included in the official list of players for the final competition,” said Fifa in a statement.
Mahachi was born in September 1993, while Nakamba was born in January 1994 and Gutu who took part in the bid for the foiled 2012 Olympic has August 5 1993 as his official date of birth.
Fifa has set a October 25 deadline to register teams for the Olympics where only four African teams slots are reserved for qualification.
Dynamos coach Kalisto Pasuwa has been verbally appointed Under-23 coach and is yet to sign a contract with Zifa.
Pasuwa took over from Warriors legend Peter Ndlovu who has found a full-time job at Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela is not aware of the commencement of 2016 Olympics qualifiers which begin at the end of this year.
“I am not sure, let me find out,” said Gwesela.
Just over a month after the humiliating failure to qualify for Morocco 2015 Afcon finals, the Zifa board has not met. Zimbabwe bowed out in the first round after a 3-2 aggregate defeat by Tanzania.
The early exit has been interpreted as a national disaster by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture.
But Zifa president Cuthbert Dube appears to have gone into hiding with his only public appearance being at the consultative meeting with the SRC and Sports ministry last month.
At the meeting, Dube apportioned blame to the Ian Gorowa-headed technical team, defending Zifa as having equipped the Warriors for an Afcon qualification.
The Warriors went on strike on the eve of the Tanzania second leg over unpaid appearance fees while the Premier Soccer League declined to cancel league matches to allow an extended Warriors camp.
Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze said the board would convene on July 25.
“The Zifa board will meet on July 25 at an extraordinary general meeting. The board has been quiet of late to avoid interfering with the High Performance Technical Committee’s work on national teams’ coaches,” said Mashingaidze.