As expected, Zimbabwe’s hopes of hosting the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals went up in flames after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) threw out the country’s bid.
The Caf Executive Committee met at the weekend and deliberated on the bids submitted at the end of September.
“Of the countries which submitted bids to the General Secretariat of Caf by the deadline of 30th September 2014, only four were determined to be compliant with the set criteria to be considered,” said Caf yesterday.
“Those are for Algeria, Egypt, Gabon and Ghana.
The Executive Committee will finalise the date on which to take the vote to determine the host country.”
Zimbabwe was among the seven countries that submitted their bids to host the competition after Libya pulled out due to political unrest and violence in the North African country.
The continental football body had received applications from Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan and Zimbabwe before the deadline.
Caf emphasized that due to the limited time frame for the organisation of the tournament, the Executive Committee was only focusing on the host with acceptable infrastructure and facilities required, which included stadia, training grounds, accommodation and communications in making a decision.
The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) under government pressure had hurriedly formulated a bid document although the country was clearly lagging behind in all these facets attributed by Caf.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi had in September announced Zimbabwe’s interest in bidding to host the tournament.
‘We are dreaming, Mr Speaker, of mega events in the future that will improve hotel accommodation, rooms, hospitality and basically everything in this country,” Mzembi told lawmakers during a question-and-answer session.
“One of them which I had already pronounced and Parliament must take us dead serious on it is the hosting of the World Cup in 2034 by Zimbabwe. For your information honourable members, this project is already inspiring infrastructural projects.”
In a bid to appease the politicians, Zifa quickly moved to draft a bid document despite the fact that the country was clearly out of its depth in this regard.
Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) director general, Charles Nhemachena, who also worked with the bid committee, admitted that this development was a wake-up call to the country regarding facilities and planning.
“Although I have not seen the official communication from Caf regarding the 2017 Afcon, naturally I’m disappointed because we wanted our bid to be successful,” Nhemachena told the Daily News yesterday.
“I would like to see the full report from Caf to see their reasons on why they denied us this opportunity so that we can prepare to submit successful bids in the future.
“As a country we have to move on and what we have learned from this episode is that we need to continually improve on the infrastructure that we have.
“This is a wake-up call. We need to start looking at hosting other tournaments like the Women’s Championships and the junior finals so that our facilities can improve.
“Obviously getting these tournaments that has to go hand in glove with the facilities at our disposal.”
Nhemachena added: “Even at that time when we were stripped the rights of hoisting the 2000 Afcon finals, there were facilities we had dedicated for refurbishment but they were never completed once that opportunity was denied.”
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