THE country’s football mother body, Zifa, has reportedly registered with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for its junior teams to take part in the Under 17 and Under 20 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The development is contrary to some media reports that Zimbabwe’s junior football teams had been banned by CAF from participating in such contests. There were two embarrassing incidents in 2012 when Zifa failed to send the Under-20 team to Angola for the African Youth Championships.
ZIFA also left the Under-17 squad stranded at the ZIFA Village after failing to fly them to Congo Brazzaville for their youth championships qualifiers.
The 12th edition of the Under 17 Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Madagascar, while our COSAFA neighbours Zambia will play host to the 20th edition of the Under 20 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
CAF will announce the format of the two competitions in due course.
“The development of football begins at a junior stage and we are glad that our young stars will have the chance to shine and showcase their talent when the qualifiers of these important competitions commence,” said Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa who during his campaign made a promise to ensure interest in the juniors game was revived.
He added that efforts were being made to support youth football development and junior national teams.
“We have bigger plans to develop youth football and strengthen our junior teams. We registered the Young Warriors so that we can regain our pride as a football powerhouse. We need to put our faith in these young players and prepare them to graduate into the senior team. Junior football is the cornerstone of football development,” he said.
The country’s Under 17 and Under 20 teams are under the tutelage of Tafadzwa Mashiri and Jairos Tapera respectively.