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Zimbabwe u-turns on hosting Cosafa

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By Peter Kanjere:

Zimbabwe has made a u-turn on its decision to host the 2019 edition of Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Senior Men’s Championship which will involve Malawi’s Flames.

Cosafa secretariat and BBC confirmed Tuesday that Zimbabwe has withdrawn its interest in staging the 14-member championship— a month after being granted the hosting rights— which is scheduled for May 19 to June 1 2019.

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Cosafa Deputy General Secretary, Suzgo Nyirenda, Tuesday said Zimbabwe was yet to write the association officially about its decision against hosting the event.

“We will engage our members to see who can be interested [in hosting] but, for sure, we are going to have the tournament this year,” the former Football Association of Malawi general secretary said Tuesday.

Zimbabwe’s Sports Minister, Kirsty Coventry, told Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) website that they will not host the championship because “the deal was not good for Zimbabwe or for Zifa”.

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“We want to make sure that, when we do host an event of this magnitude, we are fully prepared, we have good timing. We just do not feel that that was really given to us this time around,” Coventry is quoted as saying.

“Moving forward, we will continue to work closely with Zifa in terms of what the next steps are and what the future holds in terms of hosting the event”.

Zifa President, Felton Kamambo, echoed Coventry’s sentiments.

“As Zifa, our team will be participating in the Cosafa tournament, wherever it’s going to be held.

“We will try and bid for future hosting of Cosafa, that is maybe from 2021 going upwards, so that we have enough time, like the minister has said, to prepare to host this tournament,” Kamambo said.

The Warriors of Zimbabwe have won the Cosafa title in the last two consecutive years.

The Flames hope to participate in the championship and better their lousy run of failing to win a game in two consecutive editions in which they scored once in six games.

Malawi’s finest hours in the championship were in 2002 and 2003 when, under Dane Kim Splidsboel and Briton Alan Gillet, they reached the final and lost to South Africa and Zimbabwe, respectively.

In last year’s championship held in Polokwane, South Africa, the Flames lost 1-0 to Mauritius before drawing 1-1 against Botswana and 0-0 with Angola.

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