By Sport Reporter
JORDAN Zemura’s hopes of representing his country at the African Cup of Nations are in further doubt despite the president of CAF stating that competition will go ahead as planned.
That’s because Zimbabwe could be banned from the competition that is set to start in just 16 days.
The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) has been suspended by the country’s governing body the Sports and Recreation Commission with FIFA taking a hard-line on any government interference within national FAs.
Previous African FAs that have faced the wrath of world football’s organising body include Mali, Chad and Nigeria.
If the SRC do not relinquish control of ZIFA by January 3 then FIFA will have no choice but to ban Zimbabwe from international games, effectively expelling them from the competition.
Cherries boss Scott Parker admitted he was still in the dark to when Zemura would depart. Parker said:”I’ve spoken to Jordan regarding the African Cup of Nations. I’ve not spoken or heard of anything Zimbabwe not being in [the competition.]
“At this moment of time he is planning to go away. We’ve still not had full confirmation of when that would be. I suspect he will be eligible for the next couple of games, or certainly the next game. Moving on from here I’m not 100 per cent sure, but that’s where we stand at the moment.”
Despite the confusion surrounding the status of ZIFA, Zimbabwe’s coaching team have named a 30-man preliminary squad, with hopes pinned on Zemura due to injuries to key players such as Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba.
Due to the current situation, Zimbabwe have not organised any friendlies – meaning it is likely that if Zemura does leave for the competition, it will be later than other England-based African stars called-up.
The competition is set to take place between January 9 and February 6 in Cameroon – who were originally meant to host the tournament in 2019, before it was stripped away as the country was not deemed ready for games.
Awarded hosting rights for the 2021 edition, the tournament was then delayed to January 2022.
Traditionally, the tournament had always been hosted in the winter – but after sustained pressure from European clubs, the tournament was shifted to the summer.
2019 was the first edition played in the summer, with Egypt stepping in as hosts. It is believed that the competition will revert back to being held in the summer every two years, with the next edition slated to be hosted by the Ivory Coast in the summer of 2023.
Whilst Cameroon is not on the UK’s red list for COVID, two of the host cities Limbe and Garoua have been labelled by the UK government as areas where they advise against all but essential travel due to security reasons.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) state that: “These cities will be busier than usual during this period and there to be a heightened risk of petty crime, particularly at night.
“The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the host cities of Limbe and Garoua.”
However, none of Zimbabwe’s scheduled group-stage games are based in these cities, with their first two games against Senegal and Malawi to be played at the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam, with their last fixture to be played against Guinea in the capital of Yaounde.