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ZIMBABWE’S chances of securing the rights to stage the 2017 African Cup of Nations were dealt another big blow when their proposed co-hosts Botswana withdrew from the bidding process ahead of today’s Confederation of African Football deadline. Although Zifa pressed ahead and submitted their bid document at the CAF headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, yesterday, they had to go it alone after failing to get Botswana to partner them.

CAF had set September 30 as the deadline by which all prospective countries willing to host the competition would have to tender their bids.

Zimbabwe dispatched Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze to Egypt on Sunday to submit the bid document after establishing that Botswana were no longer able to partner them in the ambitious process despite their Botswana Football Association counterparts having expressed a g interest on a joint bid.

It also emerged yesterday that while the BFA had agreed in principle with Zifa for the two associations to go into bed, they had failed to secure the crucial guarantee from the Botswana government.

Without a government guarantee to underwrite the costs of the tournament and enforce all the necessary CAF requirements, a country’s bid would be doomed from the start.

Sources said yesterday that while the BFA may have expressed a wish to bid to host the Nations Cup, they once again failed to get their government’s backing on the move.

Earlier this year, the BFA also failed to secure government support for the staging of the Cosafa Senior Men’s Challenge Cup and the competition has had to be shelved for 2014.

Although Zifa had managed to secure the government guarantee and have a letter to that effect signed by President Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s chances of convincing CAF that they would be able to hold the event as replacement hosts to Libya are now very remote without a joint bid.

Libya had been the original hosts of the 2017 tournament but the North African country was forced to cede that right because their nation is in turmoil owing to the seemingly endless civil strife there.

While Mashingaidze could not be reached to comment on the latest developments, Zifa Communications manager Xolisani Gwesela confirmed that Botswana had pulled out of Nations Cup bid race, leaving Zimbabwe to battle with such countries like Algeria, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania that have also tendered their bid documents.

Zifa, Gwesela said, had over the weekend finalised their bid document but without a country to partner them, their bid document now ceases to be complementary in nature.

This is also the second time in as many weeks that Zimbabwe’s regional neighbours have spurned the offer to go into bed with them in the bidding process after Zambia last week rejected the proposal and opted to go it alone.

Given indications by CAF that they would consider a country that has previously hosted any of their tournaments, Zimbabwe now appear to be merely fulfilling a formality by handing in their bid.

Sources close to the goings-on at CAF also revealed last night that although the continental body may have invited for bids, “this is merely a routine thing but really CAF know who they want to hand the 2017 tournament to and it is a country that already has the facilities”.

Gwesela however, remained optimistic that CAF might just consider the Zimbabwe bid and this also despite that by his own admission Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa noted that the country’s best chances lay in finding a partner for a joint bid.

“Zifa, together with relevant stakeholders, on Saturday concluded the 2017 AFCON bid document for submission before tomorrow’s (today’s) deadline.

“Zifa chief executive officer, Jonathan Mashingaidze, departed for Cairo, Egypt yesterday evening where he will submit the document today (yesterday) at the Confederation of African Football headquarters.

“As Zifa we are hopeful that Zimbabwe’s proposal is comprehensive hence it will surely match those of other contenders.

“Despite all the negativity and pessimism from other quarters, we have refused to be distracted and we shall continue with our bid activities until the winning contender has been announced.

“It is obvious to any rational observer that Zimbabwe, with the necessary support, has the capacity to host such a mega event.

“Botswana Football Association withdrew from the organisation of the event, citing ill-preparedness despite expressing will in their initial response,” Gwesela said.

Ghana, Algeria, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya are some of the nations targeting the 2017 slot after CAF then invited all member associations interested to present their proposals before September 30 while the successful nation will be announced next year.

South Africa hosted the 29th edition of the tourney in 2013 while Morocco will stage next year’s competition.

Source : The Herald

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