ZIMBABWE’S Warriors were part of the draw for the 2023 AFCON qualifiers in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday night.
This is despite the suspension, which FIFA imposed on the country, at their Congress in Doha, Qatar, last month.
Zimbabwe were one of the two African countries who were suspended by the world football controlling body for what FIFA claim to be interference, in the running of domestic football, by third parties.
Kenya are the other country which was also suspended.
The decision by the Sports Commission to suspend the ZIFA executive, led by Felton Kamambo, over a litany of charges, was interpreted by FIFA as third-party interference, in the running of local football.
Of course, it’s worth noting that much of the input, which FIFA fed on leading them to make their judgment, was supplied by the suspended ZIFA board and their allies.
This means that the other side of the argument, including the transgressions which the Sports Commission claim were done by the suspended board, were largely ignored in the decision-making.
However, despite FIFA’s hardline stance, it appears some of the African football leaders do not want to be part of the nonsense, which keeps coming from Zurich.
These African football leaders, especially CAF president Patrice Motsepe, who used to fish a lot from the local football pond, when he was still running Mamelodi Sundowns, appear to feel the Zimbabwean game should not be allowed to die but deserves to be supported.
They know the potential, which is found in local football, and Motsepe can count on a number of Zimbabweans, notably Peter Ndlovu, Esrom Nyandoro and Nyasha Mushekwi, who made a lasting impression at the Brazilians.
The entire COSAFA members are believed to have either abstained from voting or voted against the FIFA executive motion for the suspension of Zimbabwe to be ratified.
In January Motsepe’s CAF leadership had moved mountains to ensure the Warriors would compete at the 2021 AFCON finals despite the suspension of the ZIFA board and pressure which was being exerted from different sources for the national team to be barred from the tournament.
There are even claims that some of the suspended board members were angling for the Warriors to be thrown out of the tournament while they also pressed for the revocation of the accreditation of one of the officials, from the Government, who had earlier been accredited to be an official at the tournament.
But, that is now in the past and what matters, right now, is what will happen between now and the deadline, which the CAF leaders have provided, for a resolution to the impasse in local football, leading to a lifting of the ban imposed on the country by FIFA, to enable the Warriors to compete in the qualifiers for the 2023 AFCON finals.
The ban has to be lifted two weeks before the qualifiers start.
Sports Minister, Kirsty Coventry, has said she is working behind the scenes to ensure that the ban is lifted and we only hope the extra-ordinary meeting, which the ZIFA Councillors have planned for Saturday, could be part of the solution.