THERE is now added pressure to ensure domestic football resumes after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) yesterday confirmed new dates for the 2021 Chan tournament.
This comes as local football is currently in limbo since March this year owing to the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Since then, the government has imposed a nationwide lockdown with all sporting activities including football banned.
In order for the game to resume, the Zimbabwe Football Association(Zifa)’s return to play protocols have to be approved by the government first.
The association’s application only reached the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) earlier this week and there is no indication yet whether it will be approved.
Zimbabwe is already racing against time on two fronts after Caf recently announced that 2022 Afcon qualifiers will resume in November with the Warriors taking on Algeria in back-to-back qualifiers.
FC Platinum will also begin their 2020-21 African Champions League campaign in the preliminary round that same month.
Another albatross has been thrown on local’s football’s neck after Caf’s executive committee meeting agreed that the Chan tournament will now take place next January in Cameroon.
“Initially scheduled for April 4-25, 2020 and postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the final tournament of the Chan Cameroon 2020 will now take place on January 16 to February 7, 2021.
“In addition, the fourth substitution rule in the event of extra time at the knockout stages of the competitions will be applied.
“The final tournament of the Chan Algeria 2022 will be rescheduled to January 2023. The exact dates are to be discussed with the Algerian Football Federation,” Caf said in a statement yesterday.
The Chan tournament is a competition solely reserved for local national team players playing their club football in their home nations.
Zimbabwe is supposed to take part in the tournament after sealing their ticket last year.
When Covid-19 broke out, Warriors coach Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic was actually in camp with his local-based players preparing for the Chan finals.
Logarusic, who is currently back in his native Croatia, will now find it had to prepare for this rescheduled competition due to the inactivity of the domestic league.
The Croat is fully aware that he faces a huge challenge in ensuring his team is up to the task when the tournament finally gets underway in Cameroon next January.
“For Chan we must also make sure we do something. I’m banking that the association will do their best to try and organise maybe a camp.
“If the government gives the green light to start football, we will have to start Chan preparations as soon as possible,” Logarusic recently told the Daily News.
At the moment, Zifa and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) are haggling over a number of issues to do with the resumption of local football.
The first sticking point has to do with the Covid-19 Relief Aid which has left the two bodies widely-divided.
Zifa received US$1,8 million from both Fifa and Caf which is supposed to go towards sustaining the local game during this pandemic.
However, the PSL is not pleased with how Zifa has distributed the relief aid and the fact that it has also been converted to local currency.
Another sticking point has also been the way Zifa has handled their application to the SRC.