Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA are still yet to get the green-light from authorities for the Warriors trip to Malawi for an international friendly match against the Flames on Sunday.
Football, which has been listed among the high risk sports, is yet to get the approval to resume activities under the national Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
ZIFA’s application, for the games to begin, under strict health and safety guidelines, is still being looked at by the Ministry of Youth, Arts, Sport and Recreation.
Some of the local players are puzzled how they are allowed to be at night clubs, which have been opened across the capital, but are still not permitted to get their sport underway.
A number of local players have been frequenting these night spots, where the guests are not even forced to wear masks or practise social distancing.
ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo, however, is hopeful the Warriors, who have been invited by Malawi for an international friendly at the Kamuzu Stadium next Sunday, will be given a special dispensation to travel.
Kamambo also revealed they were also pushing for a special waiver for Premiership champions FC Platinum to begin preparations for the CAF Champions League.
“The situation is still the same but we had a meeting on Friday and agreed to put in place protocols, specifically for FC Platinum (who are supposed to compete in the CAF Champions League next month), and the national team that will travel to Malawi.
“We are expecting responses probably by Monday (today).
“We expect our national team to travel either Tuesday or Wednesday once we get the approval.
“All the players and officials will be tested for Covid-19 in line with the health and safety protocols,” said Kamambo.
The Minister of Sports, Kirsty Coventry, and the SRC board have indicated their willingness to have football back as soon as possible.
But, the approval will only be subject to football meeting the health protocols for a safe return.
“We are still working on that. We had a meeting with ZIFA where we were deliberating on the issues related to the safety of the players.
“But, I think, everything should be in order,” said the SRC director-general Prince Mupazviriho.
ZIFA will this week be knocking more on the doors at the Sports Commission doors as they are now left with one month before the Warriors plunge into the AFCON qualifiers.
They face African champions, Algeria, in back-to-back matches in Group H.
ZIFA would want to use the international friendly against Malawi as part of the preparations for the resumption of international football.
This could be the only chance Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic, would probably have with the bulk of his players before a competitive game.
The Croatian was forced to retreat to his home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He is expected to return to Zimbabwe today, to lead the side to Malawi.
Logarusic is expected to name his travelling squad tomorrow.
ZIFA communications manager, Xolisani Gwesela, said the bulk of the Warriors players were likely to fly directly to Malawi.
“Due to the uncertainty associated with the Covid-19 travel protocols, the players will fly directly to Malawi,” he said.
A 17-man Warriors squad, made up of foreign-based players, is expected to converge in Blantyre.
Logarusic, however, is likely to miss some of the key foreign-based players that he would have wanted to see.
Our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, reported ZIFA’s letters of request to the various clubs fell short of the required 14 days’ notice, with some letters still being sent as late as yesterday morning.
While the backbone of the team, which includes skipper Knowledge Musona, Marshal Munetsi, Alec Mudimu, Teenage Hadebe, Khama Billiat and Marvelous Nakamba are expected to make the trip, there are lingering doubts over the likes of France-based Tino Kadewere, Macauley Bonne, Terrence Dzvukamanja and goalkeeper Martin Mapisa.
“Of course, there are challenges that are bound to be met every time a national team is called.
“But, we are hopeful the bulk of the players will honour the call. The coach will name his squad on Tuesday.’’