Don Makanyanga Sports Reporter

THE ZIFA Referees Committee has begun preparing local match officials for international duty after holding an orientation exercise for the 14 officials that were recently appointed onto the FIFA panel.

The exercise took place at the new, rented ZIFA offices in Harare on Saturday.

Speaking at the ceremony, ZIFA Referees Committee chairperson, Norman Matemera, described the selection of the 14 match officials as an honour for the country.

“It is an honour for the referees to be selected by FIFA to be on the international panel,” said Matemera. Reigning Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Referee of the Year Brighton Chimene will lead the cast of referees that have been appointed to the 2024 FIFA panel after a two-year absence caused by the February 2022 ZIFA banishment by FIFA.

The list includes eight males and six females.

Matemera aid 21 officials were sent for consideration by FIFA and 14 were successful.

Four of the officials will be making their debuts on the FIFA international panel this year.

“As ZIFA, for the 2024 panel we sent about 21 names to be selected and FIFA settled for 14. Thus, we have four male central referees and four assistant referees and on the female side we have three central referees and three assistant referees.

“The new entrants from the men’s side are Tichaona Mbire and Thabani Ruzario, while on the women’s side we have Melusi Dominica and Progress Chatsamwa,” said Matemera.

Among those retained on the panel are Chimene, Lawrence Zimondi, Thomas Kusosa, Luckson Mhara, Tafadzwa Nkala, Edgar Rumek, Mercy Maimbo, Claris Simango, Thanks Nyahuye and Grace Gimo.

He challenged the selected referees to be good ambassadors of the country when selected for international duty during the course of the year.

“Being on the FIFA International panel means that at any time you can be assigned international matches, hence I challenge you that when that opportunity comes, you should always remember that you are ambassadors of our great country,” said Matemera.

Guest of honour at the orientation programme, ZIFA chief executive officer, Yvonne Manwa-Mapika, challenged the officials to grab the opportunity and enhance their skills.

She said the football mother body will be rolling out courses for referees to keep them abreast of developing trends.

“This is a great opportunity for you. I challenge you to fly the Zimbabwe flag high.

“As ZIFA, we would want to see you in international matches, hence we will be availing courses that will keep you abreast of developing trends in football,” she said.

List of Zimbabwean referees on FIFA panel:

Referees Men: Brighton Chimene, Lawrence Zimondi, Tichaona Mbire,Thabani Ruzario

Assistant Referees Men: Thomas Kusosa, Tafadzwa Nkala, Luckson Mhara, Edgar Rumeck

Referees Women: Mercy Mayimbo, Grace Gimo, Thanks Nyahuye,

 Assistant Referees Women: Claris Simango, Progress Chatsamwa, Melusi Dominica

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