CHIEF executive officer of local organising Committee of the African Nations Champions Mvuzo Mbebe has challenged the African football fraternity to have optimism and positive attitude towards players who pursue football careers in the domestic leagues as the continent awaits the tournament that features only locally-based players in South Africa next year.
Addressing sports journalists at a Press conference in Bulawayo on Tuesday evening, Mbebe spoke about South Africa’s preparedness to host the third edition of the tournament as well as urging football stakeholders not to look down upon locally-based players.
“It is the players from the local leagues who keep the fire burning. Home players from the grassroots level create the culture and style of football. Football stars should not be measured by where they are.
“They are champions in their own right, so this tournament celebrates those players. It is not Knowledge Musona who makes football in Zimbabwe, but people who play in the domestic league.” Mbebe said.
Mbebe also pointed out why the African football economy is not benefiting much in the global football economy urging fans to go in numbers to support their teams in the stadium.
“Statistics show that African football economy benefits only 1% of the global football with 60% of that 1% going to South Africa. There is something wrong in those statistics.
“As Africans we have put ourselves in a corner; someone cannot pay to watch players called for national duty from national leagues, but we want to go to the stadium and see players called for national duty from European clubs” he said.
Responding to a question whether it was fair to rule out Zimbabwean players playing in the Absa PSL from the tournament yet they play alongside most South African players who will be playing for Bafana Bafana, Mbebe had this to say:
“The tournament is strictly for locally-based players, the fact that Musona plays in the South African league disqualifies him from taking part is this competition because the tournament in specifically for players who have an input in the development of their domestic leagues.”