FIFA’s decision to shelve the 2022 World Cup football qualifiers for South America, which had been set for this month, has ignited hope the AFCON qualifiers could also be moved from this month.

The football leaders are trying to manage a crisis which could see countries like Zimbabwe being forced to field under strength teams in decisive matches in the final two rounds of the Nations Cup qualifiers,

Already, FIFA have set a precedence after allowing the South American 2022 World Cup qualifiers to be shelved due to the non-availability of players who cannot travel due to the coronavirus protocol in place in the countries they are plying their trade in.

As things stand right now, Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic is increasingly worried about the real possibility of failing to field any of his UK-based players in the decisive 2021 AFCON qualifiers later this month.

Zimbabwe play Botswana in the penultimate round of the qualifiers on March 25 away before hosting Zambia in the final group game at the National Sports Stadium four days.

The Southern African trio are wrestling for the sole remaining ticket to the finals slated for Cameroon next year, with group leaders Algeria having already sealed their place.

But, of late Loga, who is yet to get his own work permit, has had a lot of nail-biting to do, since naming a bloated 38-man squad over a week ago.

Just two days after being told he cannot access the services of Lyon forward Tino Kadewere, there are chances the Croat could also be forced to do without Scotland-based striker David Moyo, as well as Marshal Munetsi who plies his trade for Stade Reims in the French Ligue 1.

That another French Ligue 1 team, Lyon, have exercised their power to restrict Kadewere from traveling, could influence the likes of Reims to follow suit.

Overseas clubs, especially those in the UK, have been temporarily allowed the power to consider not releasing their players for national team duties.

Aston Villa’s Marvellous Nakamba has since been ruled out of the crunch AFCON ties against Botswana and Zambia after the Birmingham team wrote to ZIFA confirming the position last week.

Other England-based players, who Loga drafted into his squad, include Bournemouth’s Jordan Zemura, Brendan Galloway of Luton City, Tendayi Darikwa, who turns out for Wigan Athletic, as well as Wycombe Wanderers’ Admiral Muskwe.

But, with FIFA having already allowed the postponement of the World Cup qualifiers in South America, Warriors manager Wellington Mpandare hopes the world football governing board could as well intervene this side too.

“As you already know Marvellous Nakamba and Tino Kadewere are out. Marshall Munetsi is also a huge doubt,” said Mpandare.

David Moyo and all the others who play overseas could be hard to get as well.

But all hope is not lost though. We have been following events in South America and we hope that the qualifiers this side can also be moved to allow us a chance to field our best players or something of the sort.

CAF could as well be considering something along those lines, with the incoming new executive expected to deliberate on the crisis, which is affecting all countries, on Friday.

UK-based football coach, Philip Zulu said CAF, with the blessings of FIFA, should consider moving the remainder of the qualifiers to a later date.

The suspension of the World Cup qualification fixtures in South America by FIFA should be a universal global football template of the minimum crisis management procedure .

World Cup tournaments are measured by the presence of top players and, by using the same token on our AFCON qualifiers fixtures against Botswana and Zambia, we have to raise the same critical issues with CAF and FIFA to have these two fixtures (and indeed all the others) suspended,” suggested Zulu.

Logically, we have to get all our best players on board and this is part of our national thrust to develop our failing standards that recently plunged to 112 on the FIFA world rankings.

What’s good for the goose, it’s the same for the gander, so what has happened to the suspended fixtures in South America is most welcome and applicable to our situation.

If the Zimbabwe national team goes against the grain and participates in these two fixtures without their best players, then the pending turmoil of plunging in world rankings should be challenged forthwith as the impact of such decisions only favours the South Americans against the African tournaments.

He said the legitimacy of global rankings should hinge upon blanket standard procedures on the global arena.

We have seen the tragedy in the recent CHAN tournament in Cameroon where everything burst into flames.

The legitimacy of any football global rankings should be consistent with the crisis management procedure that has been applied across all global tournaments and leagues in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, we should urgently communicate our dire situation without delay so that we can case carries the same objectives.

Credit: Herald

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