Zifa needs to show leadership

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SINCE the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic was reported locally, the response from the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has been disappointing at every turn.

It began with Zifa’s failure to provide a clear update on whether the 2020 season would start in March when the novel virus began spreading like wildfire across the globe.

Clubs, players, coaches and fans waited for a signal from Zifa but it never came and it was only after the government declared a nationwide lockdown and banned all sporting activities that the local game got a definite picture of the way forward.

If the government had remained silent, then there is a good chance local football would have remained in the dark on whether the 2020 campaign was commencing or it was waiting for the pandemic to subside.

It’s now over five months since the government directive banning all sporting activities and football, due to it being a full contact discipline, remains suspended.

But what has happened in other countries including in neighbouring Zambia, South Africa and Zanzibar is that their football associations (FAs) have come up with return-to-play protocols which have seen their leagues resume.

These protocols are scrutinised and vetted by their respective governments before teams can be given the green light to start training and eventually a full return to games.

Here in Zimbabwe, the Zifa Medical Committee has already come up with their own guidelines to ensure football makes a safe return.

However, the Zifa board led by the under-fire Felton Kamambo is yet to approach the government in order for this plan to be approved.

This has left the domestic game in limbo as there is no indication when football will finally commence.
Earlier this week, the Confederation of Africa Football (Caf) threw the cat among the pigeons when it announced that the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers will resume this coming November.

The Warriors are scheduled to play reigning African champions Algeria in back-to-back qualifiers between November 9 and 17.

With the way Zifa is handling the matter, the possibility is high that the national team will go into these important matches with no active local league.

Although the bulk of the Warriors players are based in Europe and in other parts of Africa where the leagues have resumed, a number of local stars are also part of the squad.

Zifa need to act with speed and ensure local football get the government approval to return before November.

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