The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) announced on Wednesday their withdrawal from the 2017 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup set to begin on December 3 in Machakos.
In a statement on its official website, ZIFA pointed out to ‘security risk posed by the volatile situation in the host country’ as its main reason for withdrawal.
“ZIFA reiterates its commitment to fulfil all future tournaments and matches, provided the environment does not in any way risk the safety of participating teams. The withdrawal from such a prestigious tournament is unfortunate for us, the team, the nation and the tournament organisers, but the association had to make the complex decision in the best interest of all involved,” the Zimbabwean association said in a statement.
The CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye confirmed Zifa’s withdrawal to KT Sports the development when contacted from Nairobi.
“Yes we have received communication from the Zimbabwe FA that they have pulled out the team,”
“However, their reasons are baseless. Kenya is not in turmoil like Zimbabwe itself. Kenya is very safe, there is peace,how can they just sit in Harare and come up with insecurity stories in Nairobi,”
“We can’t compare Kenya and Zimbabwe in terms of security. We have told them to keep quiet just because their reasons are not justifiable. They would have told us that they don’t have money to transport their team such that we can find a way of airlifting them to Nairobi. We will lose nothing in their absence, we have no regrets at all,” added Musonye.
Musonye further added that they will adjust the fixtures accordingly but Group B will have four teams with the top two proceeding to the semi final of the tournament.
Zimbabwe, alongside Libya were the two invited teams for the tournament and their withdrawal now leaves only nine teams in the competition with CECAFA member Sudan having also earlier pulled out.
The new development is rather a peculiar one from Zimbabwe, especially noting that save for a few pockets of running battles between police and opposition supporters, the country has been hugely peaceful.
But probably, the Zimbabwe Warriors might have been worried by the Local organizing Committee’s decision to move matches from Kisumu to Machakos, roughly over the same reasons despite the county government having assured of adequate security.