Lovemore Dube Sports Editor
THE Zimbabwe Football Association has asked the Confederation of African Football to confirm early officials handling their Chan tie against Zambia which had to be postponed to this coming Sunday after officials failed to turn up. The match which was supposed to be played last Sunday at Rufaro Stadium, is set for the same venue.
Xolisani Gwesela, the Zifa spokesperson yesterday said they had given the continental body up to today to confirm the referees.
Zambia and Zimbabwe were due to clash on Sunday in the first leg of the Chan final qualifier but could not take to the field after match officials from Cameroon failed to turn up for the match. They reportedly failed to catch a connecting flight from Doula on Saturday and later from Kenya, forcing the cancellation of the tie.
Prior to the saga, Zifa had expressed reservations with having match officials coming from West Africa which they argued would cost them more.
Caf had in turn said for the integrity of the competition, they would rather have referees from that far instead of those from Southern Africa.
Cameroon referee Aurelien Juenkou and his assistants Fuanta Joseph Lambi, Elvis Noupue and Christopher Nde were the match officials.
Ian Mcleod from South Africa was the match commissioner who later met members from Zifa and Football Association of Zambia to confirm the cancellation of the fixture late on Sunday afternoon.
This was after it became clear that the referees would not make it for the delayed kick off of 4.30pm that day.
Zifa are saddled with debts and have been operating on a shoe-string budget as suggested by Fifa at the beginning of the year.
There is no government funding and corporate support is also poor.
“We have asked Caf to confirm where the referees will come from. We expect to hear from them by tomorrow so that we make necessary bookings to enable the match to take place. We want to make bookings as soon as possible,” said Gwesela.
Zifa president Cuthbert Dube has kept the association afloat by providing most of the funding for their activities including national teams’ travel and allowances.
On Sunday, Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze said they had used $10 000 on the referees only.
The national association also spent an additional $55 000 on camping of players and hosting of visitors.
While it was unlikely that they would recoup that from the gate takings, hopes were high that they would at least recover the bulk of the expenditure.
The match on Sunday means the association is spending twice for one match.
The Zambians have since flown to France to face Senegal tomorrow.
The Warriors are expected to re-group in Harare tomorrow after the league matches.
Caf’s Chan competition director Amr Fahmy and the continental body’s general secretary Hicham El Amrani were advised on Sunday of the challenges that were faced by the two neighbouring countries following the postponement of the match.
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