The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) has said Zimbabwe’s participation in the 2023 AFCON qualifiers is not a priority as the window of opportunity opened by CAF closes this week.
Zimbabwe is currently serving a FIFA ban, which was imposed in February for alleged interference by the government in the running of football in the country.
This was after the SRC had suspended the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) board led by Felton Kamambo in November last year over alleged gross incompetence, failure to account for public funds and sexual abuse of female referees.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF), nevertheless, allowed Zimbabwe to enter the draw for the 2023 AFCON qualifiers, which are scheduled to start on June 1.
The Warriors were drawn in Group K alongside neighbours South Africa, Liberia and Morocco, in Group K, and were set to begin their campaign at home against the Lone Star on June 9.
SRC board chairman Gerald Mlotshwa told The Standardsport that reports about plans to appeal the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) were false. He said:
Let me be brutally clear about this, Afcon qualifiers are not a priority or a decision for the SRC right now. It’s as simple as that.
We don’t have a locus standi as SRC to approach CAS – why do you guys just write stories without at the very least asking SRC to comment? It’s a great disservice to the journalist profession.
Meanwhile, the ZIFA secretariat is understood to have already started preparations for the home match against Liberia despite the existence of SRC and FIFA bans.