Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa left Harare yesterday for Morocco for a series of high-level Confederation of African Football meetings that will deliberate on the staging of the African Cup of Nations tournaments. Chiyangwa is a vice-president of CAF’s organising committee on the African Cup of Nations tournament with Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick heading that powerful organ of the continental soccer body while South Africa’s Danny Jordaan is the other vice-president.
The current CAF meetings in Rabat are expected to run from November 15-20. CAF president Ahmad in an invitation letter to Chiyangwa said it was imperative that the ZIFA boss attended the meetings that are expected to deliberate on the staging of the Nations Cup in 2019 and 2021. Cameroon will host the first expanded version of the Nations Cup with the number having been increased from 16 to 24 teams while Cote d’Ivoire are the 2021 hosts.
“On behalf of the executive committee of CAF, I have the honour to invite you to attend CAF meetings to be held at Rabat, Morocco starting from the 15th November till the 20th November 2017. Amongst the issues to be discussed is the AFCON games awards and we need your input as vice president of the committee. The CAF Services Division will shortly be sending your travel ticket to Rabat,’’ wrote Ahmad.
Chiyangwa who is also the COSAFA president has increasingly become an influential figure in the continental football administration. The Harare property mogul was also named interim president of a coalition of the three regions – COSAFA, CECAFA and the North Zone that signed a memorandum of understanding for technical co-operation. Chiyangwa in confirming that he would attend the CAF meetings also revealed that he would during his stay in Morocco also seal deals for some friendly matches for the Warriors, which would help the senior team to prepare for the resumption of their African Cup of Nations qualifiers next March.
The Warriors, who got off to a flying start with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Liberia will face Congo in Brazzaville in their next Nations Cup assignment in March. But before that the senior team would have also taken part in the CECAFA tournament in Kenya from November 25 to December 10. ZIFA are also considering requests for friendly matches for the national Under-17 side against Lesotho and Malawi who are eager to square off against the Under-20 team.
Bhekhithemba Ndlovu’s Under-20 squad are currently preparing for this year’s COSAFA tournament, scheduled for Kitwe in Zambia from December 6-16. But it is Morocco where Chungwa would have to play a key part in the discussions in which CAF will decide on the various competitions which they administer. The continental body yesterday also deliberated on the African Nations Championships following the late withdrawals from the 2018 qualifiers by Djibouti and Gabon. CAF later issued a statement after their deliberations over the CHAN tournament in Rabat.
“In accordance with the provisions of Article 59 of the regulations of the Total African Nations Championship, the Organising Committee at its meeting on Wednesday, 15 November 2017, in Rabat, decided to suspend Gabon and Djibouti from the next edition of the CHAN scheduled for 2020. Few days prior to their qualifier against Equatorial Guinea, specifically 5 August 2017, the Gabon Football Federation sent a letter of withdrawal from the competition. On the other hand, the Djibouti Football Federation also communicated its withdrawal on 17 July 2017. Article 59 states that: “Any association declaring forfeit after the start of the matches is liable to a fine of ten thousand (10,000) US dollars. It will also not be allowed to participate in the next edition of the CHAN”.
“For withdrawing after playing in the first leg of the qualifiers against Ethiopia, there is a further sanction for Djibouti in accordance with Article 62 of the regulation which states that: “Any team that withdraws or refuses to play the return match after having played the first leg on its own territory must refund the association of the visiting team a minimum sum of ten thousand (10,000) US dollars in repair for the damage suffered by the host country”.
“By that, the Organising Committee has sanctioned the Djibouti Football Federation to pay the sum of ten thousand (10,000) US dollars to the Ethiopia Football Federation,’’ CAF said. Meanwhile CAF will also meet soon to discuss a proposal for African World Cup qualifiers to play friendlies during the FIFA window in March, a Nigerian official said on Tuesday.
Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia will be Africa’s five flag bearers at Russia next year. However, all five teams will be engaged in AFCON 2019 in the next FIFA window in March and this will be the last window before the World Cup in June in Russia. Super Eagles spokesman Toyin Ibitoye said Nigeria Football Federation Pinnick has proposed that the next FIFA window should now be used by the World Cup finalists to prepare for world football’s showpiece tournament.
“In the few days CAF will meet to deliberate a proposal by the NFF president on using the FIFA window in March for the World Cup flag bearers to play friendly matches ahead of Russia 2018,” he said. Nigeria are slated to play against Seychelles in March 2018 in continuation of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, but would now battle a better rated team should this proposal be accepted. There has been media speculation over possible Eagles opponents in pre-World Cup friendlies, but Ibitoye maintained likely opponents will be known after the December 1 draw in Moscow
Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor