By Sports Reporter
THE under-fire Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA leadership has apologised to the nation in the wake of the Warriors’ failure to progress to the final round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Zimbabwe were eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers after suffering back-to-back defeats to Ghana which confirmed their elimination from the competition with two matches remaining.
Much of the blame for the Warriors’ dismal campaign has been put on the ZIFA leadership due to its failure to adequately prepare the team for the qualifiers and its initial reluctance to fire Croatian coach Zdravko Logarusic, who took charge of the first two matches.
In a statement, ZIFA said issued an apology to the local football fans.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) sincerely apologises to all football stakeholders for the senior national team’s back-to-back losses to Ghana and the eventual elimination from the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers,” ZIFA said in a statement.
“We fully understand the disappointment that comes with every unfavourable result from the national teams because we know just how much Zimbabweans love and support their team.
The local football governing body said it takes responsibility for the team’s dismal show in which they collected a single point in their four matches.
“ZIFA as the institution responsible for football in Zimbabwe, therefore, takes full responsibility for the Warriors’ failure to qualify for the World Cup irrespective of several impediments that further complicated the journey. In that regard, the association encourages all stakeholders to support the players and desist from insulting the players, secretariat, and technical team who all gave it their all albeit on a losing cause.”
ZIFA also cleared the air on chaotic travel arrangements ahead of Tuesday’s reverse fixture against Ghana Tuesday which saw the Black Stars arriving in the capital before the Warriors, who remained stuck in the West African nation after Saturday’s loss.
“Further, ZIFA has received numerous inquiries from stakeholders on why Ghana arrived in Zimbabwe earlier than our own Warriors after the first leg. Their fear was that ZIFA had probably not prepared adequately for the two matches. While Ghana flew directly from Ghana to Harare on a government-funded chartered flight, our Warriors used a commercial flight secured using the association’s resources.
“The flight route used by the Warriors to travel from Accra to Harare was the fastest on the earliest possible flight. For the first leg in Ghana, players travelled directly to the match venue to reduce travel distances which would have affected their preparedness for the match.
The football association said it was hopeful that the recent return of domestic football would widen the national team selection base as the country looks forward to the AFCON finals to be held in Cameroon in January.
“ZIFA hopes that the return of local football competitions previously suspended due to Covid- 19 restrictions will increase national team coaches’ selection options. ZIFA will take lessons from the two matches and without compromising performance on the remaining world cup matches, shift attention to the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations finals. The final two FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers will also be used to further prepare for the AFCON finals,” added the statement.
The Warriors will face South Africa away and Ethiopia at home in their final two games of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.