ZIMBABWE have confirmed participation in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, but again, the national Under-17 and U-20 teams will not be involved in the African Youth Championships qualifiers.
The Under-20 side is serving a three-year ban for their failure to travel to Angola in 2012 – a ban that ends next year – meaning the junior national team will be content with playing in the regional Cosafa tournament.
Zifa failed to raise $35 000 for the return leg of the match after they had lost 1-0 in Harare and according to Caf rules and regulations, they had to serve a three-year ban and pay a $5 000 fine.
The Under-17 side was not entered for the 2015 finals that will be staged in Niger, according to a Confederation of African Football (Caf) communiqué released yesterday confirming engagements for the three competitions.
The Caf website read: “The road to Orange Caf Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), Morocco 2015 is about to begin with 51 of the 54 African countries registering to be involved in the qualifiers.
“The Confederation of African Football executive committee will meet January 24 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa, on the sidelines of the Orange Africa Nations Championship Finals (Chan) to decide on the format for the qualifiers. Morocco the host country qualifies automatically.
“Caf also announces the list of countries who have registered to compete in the qualifiers for 2015 Africa U-17 Championship to be held in Niger and the 2015 Africa U-20 Championship to be held in Senegal.”
The senior national team has only made two appearances in the Afcon finals and came close in the last two editions in 2012 and 2013, falling at the last hurdle. But with a new coach in charge – Ian Gorowa – and the government support being promised by the Sport, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa, there is a renewed sense of optimism at Zifa.
Already the Warriors have qualified for the Chan finals after disposing of tough regional champions Zambia. The Chan finals will start on Saturday, but the Warriors will get their Group B campaign underway 24 hours later against Morocco at the Athlone Stadium in Cape Town.
Langa will be travelling to South Africa for the finals.
Xolisani Gwesela, the Zifa communications manager said the two junior teams had not been entered due to lack of funding.
“We did not register the two teams, but we want to develop those structures through some of the regional competitions like Cosafa and other tournaments,” he said yesterday.
It will be a hectic year for the Warriors, as the format adopted by Caf might mean a congested calendar which will also have repercussions on the Premier Soccer League (PSL) calendar.
The PSL calendar has to accommodate the qualifiers, the NetOne Charity Shield, BancABC Sup8r and the Mbada Diamonds Cup – and end on November 30.
This means some of the games will be played midweek like last season to accommodate broadcaster SuperSport.