Huge lift for Zim…as Caf postpones 2021 Afcon to 2022

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Godknows Matarutse
SPORTS WRITER
matarutseg@dailynews.co.zw

THE Warriors received a dose of good news yesterday when the Confederation of African Football (Caf) pushed the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) to January 2022, giving Zimbabwe ample time to fix its dilapidated stadia.

Caf had banned Zimbabwe from hosting international matches after the National Sports Stadium (NSS), Barbourfields, Mandava and Rufaro were all deemed unsuitable.

Before the global spread of the coronavirus, the Warriors were scheduled to host their home Afcon 2021 qualifiers in South Africa.

At the moment, the country is racing against a July 15 deadline to renovate its stadia to have any chance of playing international matches on home soil.

The government has taken over the renovations and met most of Caf’s requirements at the NSS. What is only outstanding is the installation of bucket seats and the government is failing to import them from China owing to delays in cargo movement due to Covid-19.

However, the spread of the novel virus has made it impossible for global sporting events to take place and already, at least three months have been lost.

This has created a fixtures bottleneck for Caf and in its executive committee meeting held via video conference yesterday, it was unanimously agreed to postpone the continent’s premier football tournament which was scheduled take place in Cameroon next January-February.

The 2020 African Nations Championship (Chan) finals which were supposed to be held in Cameroon last April will now take place next January.

The African Champions League and Confederation Cup competitions were in the semi-final stage when the virus broke out.

Raja Casablanca, Wydad Casablanca, Al Ahly and Zamalek will contest for a place in the final of the continent’s elite club competition in Cameroon in September, while the Confederation Cup will be hosted in Morocco.

The development also means Warriors coach Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic will have to wait a little longer before he can take charge of his first international. Logarusic was handed a two-year contract with the mandate to take the Warriors to 2021 Afcon finals and his first assignment was supposed to be a back-to-back clash against African champions Algeria in March before it was postponed owing to Covid-19.

So far, the Croatian has only presided over a 10-day training camp with the local players which were preparing for the Chan tournament before it was eventually cancelled.

The local Premiership has since been forced to shelve the start of this year’s campaign which was provisionally set for March.

The league will now start only when the situation improves and as things stand it’s not yet clear when.

 

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