The Sunday Mail
GOVERNMENT yesterday gave the greenlight to the Zimbabwe Under-20 team to travel to South Africa for the COSAFA championships, a move that left coach Tonderai Ndiraya, a hugely relieved man.
Ndiraya told The Sunday Mail Sport that the announcement by the Sport and Recreation Commission that his team had been barred from leaving for the tournament following some protocol transgressions by ZIFA, had a psychological effect on his charges.
Apart from flexing their muscle and declining to sanction the Young Warriors trip, the Sports Commission came down hard on their director-general Prince Mupazviriho and ZIFA chief executive Joseph Mamutse, both of whom were suspended to pave way for a probe into possible misconduct by the pair.
According to the Sports Commission, Mamutse, who on Friday and yesterday was still executing his duties amid indications by ZIFA that they had only read about the sanctions imposed on him in the press, is expected to be formally served with his suspension letter tomorrow.
ZIFA appealed against the Commission’s decision to bar the Young Warriors from undertaking their trip to Port Elizabeth for the Under-20 tournament which runs from December 3-13 with the finalists from that tourney securing tickets to represent Southern Africa at the CAF Africa Under-20 Nations Cup.
Their pleas were heard when both the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation sanctioned the trip.
Sports Commission board chairman Gerald Mlotshwa confirmed in statement that Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Health and Child Care Minister and the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry, had given the greenlight for the trip.
“Pursuant to the appeal by ZIFA for the Zimbabwe Football National Under 20 (Men) participation in the COSAFA Tournament from 3-13 December 2020 in South Africa, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) is happy to announce that the approval for the Under 20’s to participate in the COSAFA Tournament has been granted.
“The approval was granted by the Ministries of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation in conjunction with that of Health and Child Care.
“ZIFA re-submitted their request for approval following guidance by the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation regarding their ‘appeal’ wherein they were advised to seek exemption for non-compliance from the SRC.
“ZIFA will be required to strictly adhere to both the National and International Protocols for the prevention and containment of Covid-19 given the increase in the number of confirmed positive cases in the country and hosting province.
“We wish the Under 20s all the success as they represent the country,’’ said Mlotshwa.
The announcement left Dynamos coach Ndiraya, who is also an assistant in the Warriors set up, a happy man.
Ndiraya had been praying that
the current crop of Under-20 players
be given a chance to take a crack at qualification for the African championships.
The greenlight for the Under-20 side also comes as a major relief for ZIFA who saw the Under-17 team being expelled from the COSAFA tournament for age cheating.
Zimbabwe were among four-nations including Botswana, the Comoros and Eswatini to have been sent packing from the COSAFA Under-17 championships after some of their players failed MRI tests to ascertain their ages.
Ndiraya hailed the lifting of the ban on the Under 20 side describing it as a good footballing decision.
“We are really excited about the greenlight, we never stopped training as we remained hopeful.
“We know ours is a caring government. “I would like to say thank you to them for giving these youngsters the opportunity to go and showcase their skills and talent in South Africa.
“Kudos to them for such a footballing decision,” said Ndiraya.
The team is now expected to leave for South Africa tomorrow.
Ndiraya, however, said while the developments of the week could have a psychological effect on the players, the reprieve from the government could also psyche up the players.
“Yes it had a psychological effect on the players, but we kept our eyes on the ball and now the trip is on.
“It is a development that will psyche up the players and I am confident that we will do well at the tournament,” he said. Ndiraya added that the “energy and zeal that has been displayed by the players’’ had left him confident that they could book a place at the CAF Under-20 championships.
“There is a lot of positivity in the camp, and if what we have seen in camp is transformed during the tournament then nothing will stop us from qualifying for the 2021 AFCON.
“The fact that these championships are also qualifiers to the continental showcase is a motivating factor to the boys as they would want to showcase their skills and talent at a bigger stage,” he said.