BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIFA will have to fork out US$18 950 before the end of this month for the Warriors to participate in this year’s edition of the Council for Southern Africa Football Association (Cosafa) Cup following a recent resolution by the regional bloc to introduce participation fees.
This year’s Cosafa Cup will be held in South Africa from July 2-17 as it makes its return on the calendar after it was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Previously participating nations featured in the regional competition on invitation by the organisers, but for the first time in the competition’s history, member associations will be asked to contribute towards the cost of the competitions.
A letter from Cosafa to member associations says the regional governing body made the resolution at its recent general assembly, to introduce the participating on fee, which should be paid by May 31, 2021.
The decision, according to Cosafa president Phillip Chiyangwa, is a response to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to drying-up of sponsors for Cosafa’s eight competitions — Cosafa Cup (men’s), Cosafa Women’s Cup, Under-20 men’s and women’s, Under-17 men and women’s, Fustal and beach soccer competitions.
He said the regional football governing body tried to ask for Covid-19 relief funds from Fifa, but it was rebuffed.
The Cosafa Cup failed to take place in October last year due to travel restrictions put in place amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Standardsport could not establish if Zimbabwe will be able to participate in this year’s Cosafa Cup in light of the new requirements. Zimbabwe is among the seven Cosafa members that have never missed the Cosafa Cup since its introduction in 1997.
The other countries to have participated in all 18 editions of the tournament are Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, eSwatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Warriors, who are the record six-time winners, had been banned from last year’s cancelled edition of the tournament after the government refused to back the previous Zifa administration’s agreement to host the tournament.
If Zifa decides to participate in this year’s edition of the Cosafa Cup, it would give Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic an opportunity to fine-tune his squad for the rescheduled 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals to be held in Cameroon in January next year.
This year’s Cosafa Cup is taking place during the season break which would give Logarusic an opportunity to assess some of his players based in Europe and neighbouring South Africa during the regional tournament.