Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) has postponed the Cosafa Cup as it awaits a response from the South African government to stage the regional showpiece in Durban.
The tournament was earmarked for October 2 to 17, but with time running out, Cosafa’s deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda, a Malawian, yesterday said the dates will be shifted.
He said in an interview from his Johannesburg base yesterday: “We cannot kick off on October 2 as that would be too close, considering that we need to conduct an inspection of facilities and ensure that everything is in place, including health and safety protocols.
“In the meantime, we are still waiting for the approval, there is nothing yet and we are not sure when we will get the response, but we are definitely biting our nails, considering the timeframe that was set for the tournament.
“There is a big uncertainty, but we need to take advantage of the off-season period. The tournament could provide an opportunity for Cosafa teams to tune up for the 2022 Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations] qualifiers.”
Nyirenda said should Cosafa miss out on the current period then it will be a challenge to host the tournament considering that the next Fifa calendar dates in November have been allocated to the Afcon qualifiers.
Football Association of Malawi president Walter Nyamilandu yesterday said the postponement of the tournament was inevitable.
“We foresaw this and that is why we proceeded to arrange international friendly matches with Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“On our part, the Flames camping won’t be affected because we are preparing for the Afcon [back-to-back] qualifiers against Burkina Faso in November.
“We always said that the Afcon qualifiers were our priority,” he said.
The Flames will face Zambia’s Chipolopolo away in Lusaka on October 7 before hosting Zimbabwe Warriors at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre four days later.
Over a week ago, Cosafa asked the South African government, through the Department of Sports and South Africa Football Associations, to consider approving the hosting of the regional tourney.
The request followed an announcement by that country’s Minister of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma that international sporting events were not allowed in the Rainbow Nation as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid-19.