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Broke Zim bails out COSAFA Cup!
By QONDILE SHONGWE - SWAZI TIMES-26-Aug-2009
MBABANE – After all the uncertainty, it is now official; Zimbabwe will host her regional counterparts when she stages the 2009 edition of the COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup in October.
According to information sourced from the Zimba-bwean Herald, the country’s government gave the green light to the organisers to host Afri-ca’s biggest tournament by pledging funding estimated to be around US$1 million.
President Robert Mugabe’s gover-nment, according to Zimbabwe’s largest and biggest selling newspaper, has agreed and accepted that the country hosts the tournament and promised to put its full weight behind it as this was an opportunity they could not afford to lose.
The COSAFA Challenge was in limbo as ZIFA could not secure the US$700 000 package required to successfully cover the costs of running the region’s flagship football tourney. Countries that can tech-nically enter the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup are Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Reunion, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well the little island of Mayotte, in the Indian Ocean, which has geographically been part of the Comoros.
The heavyweights of football in Southern Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Angola have shared honours in the Cosafa Senior Chal-lenge Cup, with each country having won the tournament three times. However, Sihlangu is yet to reach the finals of the annual tournament.
Zimbabwe last hosted a major football tournament involving senior national teams way back in 1985, when the Confederation of the East and Central African Football Association bandwagon rolled in Harare.
Zimbabwean Football Asso-ciation (ZIFA) Chief Executive Officer Henrietta Rushwaya said the mother board, together with other stake-holders, would have to work hard to prepare for the tourna-ment given the state of their stadiums, which she said they were going to work flat out with the local authorities to ensure the necessary improvements were made and brought to acceptable standards in time for the tournament, which has been set for Harare and Bulawayo.
Part of the promises that have been made by the Zimbabwean government include facilitating all the visa entry requirements for all the participating teams, seek accommodation, transport and training facilities and further cover any other requirements by COSAFA in order for the tournament to run smoothly as partners of ZIFA. When reached for comment, the National Football Asso-ciation of Swaziland (FA) CEO Frederick Mngomezulu said they had not yet received correspondence from COSAFA regarding the tournament.
“We are aware that Zimbabwe had expressed interest in hosting this year’s edition of the challenge, but we are still waiting to be informed by COSAFA on the latest developments,” he said.
Mngomezulu said they were, however, ready to for the challenge and would definitely be one of the participants should the time come. He said they would be grateful because this would mean an official competition for the national team this year.
“This would be of great benefit to our team and I must say that the international friendly matches we have been playing in the past few months are part of our preparations for the challenge,” he said. Sihlangu will be engaged in yet another international friendly against the Namibian Brave Warriors in Windhoek on September 5.
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