Zambia find themselves on standby and ready to replace their neighbours at the continental extravaganza next month amidst a looming FIFA ban.
Chipolopolo’s possibilities of competing at the 2021 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations have been handed a lifeline as Zimbabwe’s Sports & Recreation Commission (SRC) remain intent on having the nation banned from international football by FIFA.
The SRC, a state body, suspended the Felton Kamambo-led Zimbabwean Football Association (ZIFA) for alleged embezzlement of funds, a move that is against the world governing body’s statutes that prohibit interference in football matters by the governments.
The move could now see Zimbabwe banned from international football meaning they will not be able compete at the AFCON in Cameroon next month with Zambia set to be called upon to replace the Warriors at the tournament having finished third in Group H of qualifiers.
And SRC Chairman Gerald Mlotshwa has insisted that the state is determined to see the nation banned to pave way for a new dawn in Zimbabwean football.
“In so far as Zifa is concerned, we have done the necessary consultations. We are prepared for whatever might happen. If Fifa decides to ban Zimbabwean football, we are prepared. We have planned for that. If that happens we look at it as being a short-term measure,” Mlotshwa said.
“I think Zimbabwean football needs this space and this opportunity to fix itself. If that takes us a year, if it takes us two years and we are out of the international football scene, that is fine, everyone accepts that. If we are suspended from Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations] next year, that is okay. Believe me, we are prepared for that,” he added.
Chipolopolo who have been a no-show at the AFCON for three consecutive editions, could now start preparing to replace Zimbabwe in Cameroon with just over a month to go before the tournament kicks off on 9th January, 2022.