Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
IN what could be welcome news for Zifa, the 2020 African Championship finals which were slated for January and February next year have been move forward to April due to the unpreparedness of the host nation, Cameroon.
The initial dates could have put pressure on Zifa as there was very little time to appoint a Warriors coach because Joe Antipas’ contract runs out at the end of the year.
“During the Caf Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting of 2019 in Cairo, Egypt, chaired by Ahmad Ahmad it was decided that the Chan will now be staged from April 4 to 25 in Cameroon. The recommendations concerning the location of the training sites and the hosting of the groups for the Chan Cameroon 2020 were approved. The dates for the final phase of the Chan Cameroon 2020 (4th – 25th April 2020) were approved,” said Caf in a communique.
The Warriors will join 16 other countries including defending champions Morocco, that made it into the finals of the tournament that is reserved solely for players plying their trade in their domestic leagues.
On their way to the finals the Warriors beat Mauritius 7-1 over two legs in the first round before dumping Lesotho 3-1 in the last and final round of qualifying.
While the postponement could be a welcome development for Zifa, it might also be a huge disadvantage as some of the key players like Prince Dube, Nqobizitha Masuku might no longer be eligible to play if reports that some foreign clubs are eyeing them.
The big football nations not participating at next year’s Chan are Nigeria, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
The Ghanaians failed to qualify for the second time at the expense of Burkina Faso, who held on for a barren draw at home in Ouagadougou, going through 1-0 on aggregate after winning the first leg in Kumasi. The result extended the sorry record of the Black Stars of missing out on the last three finals of the competition designed exclusively for footballers playing in their domestic leagues dating back to 2016.
Senegal saw their 1-0 lead against Guinea overturned in Conakry, the home side winning 1-0 to send the tie to penalties.
Mamadouba Bangoura scored in the 47th minute for Guinea to swing the game balanced at 1-1 on aggregate and they won 3-1 in the shootout.
Qualified teams for Cameroon 2020
Cameroon (hosts), Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Namibia, Togo (debut), Morocco, Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Congo, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger, Mali.