By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE and Kenya will not take part in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), whose qualifying campaign starts in early June, the continental football governing body CAF has confirmed.
The Warriors’ exclusion from the qualifiers comes after they were also earlier on Monday barred from this year’s Cosafa Cup because of its ongoing ban from football by the world governing body FIFA because of government interference in the running of the game.
Zimbabwe had needed their ban to have been lifted two weeks before their first Nations Cup qualifier if they were to take part in the 2023 campaign.
However, this deadline – which came on Saturday, May 21 – passed without Zimbabwe being readmitted to the international fold.
Kenya also failed to meet the FIFA deadline.
On Monday evening CAF confirmed that both the Warriors and Kenya would not feature in the qualifiers after they failed to solve their suspension from FIFA.
The Warriors had been due to play Liberia, South Africa and Morocco in Group K of the qualifiers.
It means that Group C will now consist of only three teams, namely South African, Morocco and Liberia, with the first two teams from the group booking their tickets for the tournament in Ivory Coast.
The ban imposed by FIFA in February came after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended the ZIFA board over alleged misappropriation of funds and appointed a restructuring committee in November 2021.
Despite the sanction, Zimbabwe were included in the draw for the 2023 Nations Cup, with CAF giving them a deadline for the ban to be lifted to participate.
“As a consequence of having failed to have their suspensions by FIFA set aside, CAF has confirmed that both Kenya and Zimbabwe will not participate in the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 qualifiers,” CAF said on Monday.
“The qualifiers will kick-off on the first day of June 2022.
“CAF had included them in the official draw earlier in April 2022 on condition that the suspension must be lifted two weeks before their first match day.
“Kenya and Zimbabwe, suspended for political interference, have not yet met the criteria required by the FIFA Congress as a prerequisite for lifting their suspension. As a result:
“Because of the suspension, the following will apply; the two associations, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) will be considered losers and eliminated from the competition.
“Groups C and K will be composed only of three teams and the order of the matches will be maintained in accordance with the match schedule that has been communicated to the teams after the draw.
“The first and runner-up teams of those groups will qualify to the final tournament.”