Sports

Zifa discuss Covid-19 crisis

Eddie Chikamhi
Senior Sports Reporter
THE ZIFA board yesterday discussed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis that has hit the Warriors training camp for the CHAN tournament after almost half the members tested positive for coronavirus this week.

The calamity was included on the agenda yesterday when ZIFA president Felton Kamambo called his board members to look into some of the pressing matters ahead of the association’s long-awaited Annual General Meeting set for Harare today.

The association will also be hoping that there will be no new positive cases when players and officials go for a second round of tests today.

ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela yesterday told The Herald that the board will only come up with a resolution after the repeat tests are conducted.

He also said the AGM will adhere to strict coronavirus health protocols to minimise the risks of an outbreak among the delegates.

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“The COVID-19 situation in the Warriors camp was discussed by the board at length. But we can only have a proper position after the repeat tests have been conducted. They have to be done inside 48 hours,” said Gwesela.

The national football team was plunged into a crisis after 14 members tested positive for COVID-19 when they resumed camp on Monday in preparation for the CHAN tournament.

The affected individuals have since been placed in isolation while the rest of the team members are still in camp and have been advised by the Ministry of Health and Child Care to remain in quarantine, in line with the World Health Organisation protocols.

Warriors doctor Xolani Ndlovu yesterday said the players and officials who tested negative will carry out the repeat tests today while contact tracing is set to begin for those that returned positive tests.

“The Ministry of Health and Child Care have advised us to remain in quarantine. The positive cases will also remain in isolation and will be closely monitored.

“We will have repeat tests tomorrow (today) for all those that tested negative. Repeat tests are meant to identify if there were any false negatives and also to ascertain if some of the negative results that we recorded may not have been on window period during the time when the initial tests were conducted.

“Contact tracing will also be done. So we have collected the necessary information that includes names and addresses of close families and contacts of those that tested positive.

“The Ministry will be responsible for that. They will also test the hotel staff where the Warriors have been staying and the place will be fumigated to make sure that the situation doesn’t go out of hand,” said Ndlovu.

Head coach Zdravko Logarusic is also suspected to be among those that returned positive tests when the players and officials took Covid-19 tests upon their return from the Christmas holidays training hiatus on Monday.

ZIFA have since cancelled all training sessions and have approached CAF for consideration ahead of next Wednesday’s deadline for the registration of the travelling squads of 23.

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The Warriors technical team has since placed 11 new players on standby and could fill the slots in the event that positive cases do not recover on time for CAF registration deadlines.

The CHAN tournament is scheduled to kick off in Cameroon on January 16 and ends on February 7.

The Warriors are expected to leave for the tournament on January 11.

The COVID-19 flare up is a big blow for Logarusic and his technical team, who have been trying to utilise the little time they had to prepare for the tournament.

The players returned negative results the first time they tested before the initial phase of the training camp on December 6.

They were given a week’s break for the Christmas holidays on December 20. But during the camp they also played practice matches with a number of local teams, whose players have not been in a bubble.

There is also the possibility that the Warriors could have been exposed during the Christmas weekend when they visited family, friends and places of entertainment.

They returned in camp on Sunday and tests were conducted before the resumption of training sessions the following day, leading to the detection of the positive cases.

None of them showed any signs or symptoms. Initially, ZIFA had said nine players were affected but yesterday they confirmed that five officials also tested positive.

“We confirm that five technical officials of the CHAN team have also tested positive to covid-19 including some of the coaches bringing the number of those affected to 14.

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“It’s indeed a painful scenario and huge setback. We pray that all the 14 will prevail and recover soon,” said Gwesela in a statement yesterday.

This development comes at a time when the nation is struggling to contain the rising number of cases in  recent days. The confirmed new Covid-19 cases across the nation surpassed 13 000 this week.

Complacency has been creeping into society following the successes recorded in the fight against the global pandemic but Government and WHO have been clear the virus still poses a dangerous threat.

HERALD