By Chisomo Phiri
NAIROBI-(MaraviPost)-Football Governing body in Africa, CAF, has eliminated Kenya and Zimbabwe from the upcoming AFCON 2023 Qualifiers.
The two nations were initially included from group stages draw in April this year despite facing FIFA bans.
CAF, then, hoped that FIFA would lift their bans in about two weeks time before their first Matchday which has not been possible.
Kenya and Zimbabwe were both banned from all football related activities because of governmental interference in the running of the game.
The two nations have failed to meet the requirements to have their suspensions lifted.
“As a consequence of having failed to have their suspensions by FIFA set aside, CAF has confirmed that both Kenya and Zimbabwe will not participate in the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 qualifiers,” reads part of the statement on CAF website.
The development leaves Kenya’s Group C with three teams – Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi.
Group K, where Zimbabwe were pitted, remains with Morocco, South Africa and Liberia.
The qualification format is unchanged; the first and runner-up teams of those groups will qualify to the final tournament.
It’s a big blow for the Zimbabwe Warriors who were targeting for a fourth straight appearance at the AFCON finals.
The Harambee Stars on the other hand, were targeting for a return to the Continental showpiece since 2019 in Egypt after missing out on 2021 edition in Cameroon.
What did Kenya and Zimbabwe do?
Both nations were banned this year in February, a decision that was announced by FIFA Boss Gianni Infantino.
Kenya FA (FKF) President Nick Mwendwa was accused of misappropriation of funds last year.
And in November, Kenya’s Sports Ministry – Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage Amina Mohamed to be specific – disbanded the Football Kenya Federation (FKF). This is against the FIFA rules.
A Caretaker Committee to manage Kenyan football affairs was put in place.
The drama continued to unfold, and Mwendwa was twice arrested and charged for four counts of fraudulent acquisition of public property and one count of conspiracy to commit an offense of corruption.
Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, their Football body (ZIFA) was suspended following alleged mismanagement of FIFA, government funds and donations towards numerous national team campaigns.
ZIFA was also accused of sexual harassment of female referees by technical staff and allegations of fraud.
They have pleaded innocence and have been calling for the ban that might bring them back into office if government gives in.
The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) of Zimbabwe suspended ZIFA led by Felton Kamambo, which is also against FIFA.
FIFA had initially given the SRC up to January 3, 2022 to reinstate the ZIFA board but it proceeded to takeover all AFCON preparations and appointed an acting secretary general to lead the Warriors at the finals.