Zimbabwe has dealt the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) a blow by turning down rights to host the Cosafa Cup, citing short notice as the reason.
The regional showpiece, was supposed to be staged from May 26 to June 8 and the development means Cosafa will have to search for a new host for the 2019 edition.
Cosafa deputy chief executive officer (CEO) responsible for competitions Suzgo Nyirenda confirmed the development in an interview from Johannesburg, South Africa yesterday.
“It is true. That is what the Zimbabwe Government, through their Minister [of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry] announced yesterday [Monday], but we are waiting for official communication before we embark on Plan B.
“But I am certain that we will find another host,” he said.
According to www.herald.co.zw, the Zimbabwean minister made the announcement following a marathon meeting with officials from Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and the Sports Commission.
Zimbabwe, who last hosted the tournament in 2009, were provisionally handed the rights to organise this year’s edition, pending government guarantee, when Cosafa CEO Sue Destombes toured the country last month and made the announcement.
The Zimbabwean online publication reported that after wide consultations which culminated in a highly charged meeting, the stakeholders felt the deal was not good for Zimbabwe because of limited time.
Coventry said they felt the country was not being given enough time to prepare a classy event as requested by Cosafa.
“We have had some deliberations this morning and we needed to come to the media and the country and let you know of some of the outcomes.
“The main discussions were on and around the hosting of the Cosafa tournament and it’s been agreed that at this time the deal was not good for the country or for Zifa.
“So, we will not be hosting the Cosafa games this year. But we look forward to having adequate time to be able to host a world-class event in the near future,” she was quoted as having said.
There were also sentiments that Zifa should have consulted all the relevant stakeholders before the announcement by Cosafa.
Zifa president Felton Kamambo said they have accepted the arrangement by the Zimbabwe Government and they are likely to settle for the bid for 2021.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu described the development as a big embarrassment for Cosafa.
“We had our reservations when it was announced that Zimbabwe would host the tournament, considering their economic situation.
“It [Cosafa] is not a tournament which is cheap to host. For us, it is a setback because it was on our calendar to tune up for Chan [Championship of African Nations].
“We hope Cosafa will find another sponsor,” he said.
Last year’s edition was hosted by South Africa where the Flames failed to go beyond the group stages.