Eddie Chikamhi and Grace Chingoma
IT’S the nightmarish result that probably shows the extent of the damage explosive boardroom battles are having on domestic football — ZIMBABWE 0, BOTSWANA 7.
That’s the humiliation the Young Mighty Warriors have suffered at the hands of their Botswana counterparts after a 0-2 home defeat in a World Cup qualifier at Barbourfields yesterday.
After losing the first leg 0-5, and changing the coach, the Young Mighty Warriors still suffered another defeat, this time at home yesterday, when they went down 0-2.
It’s the biggest defeat, in terms of Zimbabwean representative national football teams, in World Cup matches in the country’s history.
And, over 180 minutes, the Young Mighty Warriors also failed to score a goal and, there are fears if the boardroom battles continue, this could be a warning of what might be in store for our national teams this year.
The Warriors, still without a coach, are set to have a busy schedule with key matches in the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers from March.
ZIFA said they expect to name a coach this week, but it’s unlikely to be Serbian gaffer, Micho, who is expected in Lusaka today after the Football Association of Zambia agreed to employ him as their substantive coach.
The Warriors and Chipolopolo are in the same Nations Cup group.
ZIFA had urged football fans to come in numbers to support the Young Mighty Warriors, but yesterday’s result — and the comprehensive aggregate loss — shows a lot badly needs to be done urgently.
The association rang changes to the technical team, appointing Langton Giwa to take charge of the reverse tie, but the damage had already been done in the first leg.
The Zimbabwe team, which was hastily assembled, found the going tough and local fans will be hoping the Under-20 women side can heal some of the wounds when they take on Malawi.
The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw in Blantyre a week ago.
The Under-20 Women World Cup will be staged in Costa Rica and Panama this August, while the Under-17 tournament will be hosted in India in November.
The senior team, the Mighty Warriors, will return to action in April when they feature in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Zimbabwe were drawn against Mauritius in the preliminary round.
Yesterday’s result in Bulawayo will provide more ammunition to those who are calling on the country’s football leaders to bury the hatchet and shift their attention towards developing the game than boardroom fights.
The meltdown came a day after an ugly stand-off between ZIFA and COSAFA which culminated in the domestic football leaders being barred from the regional body’s annual meeting.
ZIFA sent a four-man delegation, led by their president Felton Kamambo, acting vice president Philemon Machana, chief executive Joseph Mamutse and legal advisor Chenai Gumiro to the indaba in Johannesburg.
However, the ZIFA delegation was barred from entering the room where the annual meeting took place.
COSAFA had told ZIFA and the Namibian Football Association not to attend, because of outstanding dues.
The Namibians didn’t travel, while ZIFA, who claimed this was all part of their fall0ut with COSAFA president Philip Chiyangwa, made the trip.
And, Twitter reacted furiously to the latest developments.
Local football fans feel ZIFA should be investing their energies in preparing for the upcoming AFCON and World Cup qualifiers instead of the boardroom clashes.
“I think to solve this issue, Kamambo and Chiyangwa must not be allowed to contest the ZIFA presidency,’’ Simbarashe Muparangi said on Twitter.
“Their fight is killing our football.”
Ironically, Zimbabwe did not send a team to the COSAFA Under-20 Championships in Zambia last month.
ZIFA owed the regional body R10 000 and another US$3 000 in affiliation and appeal fees for the Warriors ban from COSAFA.
ZIFA also owe COSAFA US$18 250 balance from a US$25 000 loan that was advanced to them two years ago.
“Regrettably, the ZIFA delegation was denied entry into the conference room by hired security details that were placed for that purpose on allegations of not being in good standing,’’ ZIFA said in a statement.
“This was despite efforts by ZIFA to pay any dues through FIFA over and above overtures made since Friday to get COSAFA Secretariat to provide other details, invoices and/or amounts that may have been owing.
“Such information was deliberately withheld for the entire week before and during the AGM and was only revealed after the meeting in the form of two additional invoices.
“ZIFA is convinced such was deliberately done to ensure the association would not have a say in congress deliberations, especially after having given to COSAFA prior notice to move a motion to discuss the various transgressions by the COSAFA president as more fully appear in the 2019 COSAFA audit report which included questionable payments done to Dr Chiyangwa which ZIFA believed were excessive including proposed redressive action to be taken.
“ZIFA is, however, happy to inform all football loving stakeholders that the association has neither been banned nor suspended but was simply stopped from attending the AGM.
“COSAFA secretariat finally, soon after the AGM, gave the ZIFA delegation two invoices of R10 000 and another of US$3000 as affiliation for 2020 and appeal on Warriors Ban respectively.
“ZIFA has since paid the R10 000 while the US$3000 will be settled in the course of the week.
“ZIFA, however, like many among the COSAFA delegates, including a majority members of the COSAFA Exco delegates, were not amused by the apparent shenanigans that were employed in efforts to take away a member’s voice.
“Be that as it may, ZIFA shall be partaking in all selected COSAFA tournaments and activities in 2020 and beyond.
“Football is bigger than individuals and in our case 2020 is the year football will do the talking.’’
The COSAFA congress went ahead as scheduled as delegates reflected on the year 2019 and plotted a way forward for the next 12 months.
The audited financial statements up to September 2019 were scrutinised and approved by the General Assembly.
The General Assembly also ratified the COSAFA tournament plan for 2020 which will see six tournaments in both men and women’s football taking place across age groups.
The COSAFA Disciplinary and Ethics Codes were also approved by General Assembly.
Zimbabwe Olympic Committee medical commissioner Nicholas Munyonga, who is chairman of the Africa Zone VI Regional Anti-Doping Organisation, made a presentation in which he gave details of how the organisation seeks to keep football “drug-free” through their various initiatives around the region.
COSAFA are also seeking to grow their partnership with La Liga of Spain to help develop grassroots football in the Southern African region.