Mighty Warriors could play first national team game as Zim’s FIFA readmission edges ever closer

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They were the last national team to participate in an international match, and they are likely to be the first to play again.

Delegates sent to Zimbabwe by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) have to find common ground with the government in resolving the issues that led to the suspension of Zimbabwe by FIFA on 24 February 2022.

If their visit to the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) offices on 4 July to meet the secretariat is anything to go by, FIFA is ready to restore Zimbabwe’s membership.

Barely 24 hours prior to the suspension, Zimbabwe’s senior women team, the Mighty Warriors, had agonisingly lost the final round of the Women Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) qualifier to Botswana.

The two nil win in Francistown was not enough to overturn the atrocious 1-3 loss at home just five days back at national sports stadium. It was a bad omen.

The 17-month absence from international football will never be forgotten by the crop of players that were at their prime, and would have blossomed at the international stage.

But the phase could be drawing to an end.

Perhaps not in the way that any of the three concerned parties would have envisaged, but something that players can still benefit from.

The suspended board would have wanted to be reinstated, something that FIFA initially ordered, but the government was adamant that it would never accept that.

FIFA, Confederation of African Football, and Council of Southern Africa Football Associations representatives currently in Zimbabwe have the sole mission create a plan that will steer the country out of international football isolation.

FIFA mission pose for a phot with members of the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) on 4 July

With the WAFCON 2024 draw scheduled for 6 July in Morocco, the Mighty Warriors can follow the events in Rabat knowing that they may well be part of the party.

The agony of narrowly missing out to Botswana and the suspension that followed a day later will certainly be at the back of whichever group of players that will be picked to play when Zimbabwe gets to play again.

Where will they play?
The dates for the qualifiers of the 12-team tournament to be hosted by Morocco in 2024 are yet to be revealed, but the games will certainly start in 2023.

With the national sports stadium currently not fit to host local football matches, the Mighty Warriors might have to endure the embarassment of playing home games abroad.

By the time that Zimbabwe was suspended in 2022, national sports stadium was the only stadium that was certified to host international matches.

But that is an entirely different matter, what everyone is waiting for with bated breath is the outcome of FIFA’s meetings with the government and the suspended ZIFA executive committee.

The government accused President Felton Kamambo, treasurer Philemon Machana, and referees committee chairperson Briton Malandule of fraud and harassment of female referees.

The three were effectively removed from office after being recalled by the ZIFA council at an extraordinary general meeting held on 23 April in 2022.

Other members, Sugar Chagonda, Farai Jere, and Barbara Chikosi were pardoned by the congress.

They were allowed to continue running the affairs of ZIFA, with Gift Banda, who was suspended the enitre time by Kamambo, as the president.

They also co-opted Alois Masepe and Martin Kweza, both from the structures of the northern region.

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