Zimbabwe: CAF Competitions Can Wait

Zimbabwean football is once again set to rock-and-roll on May 8 with an 18-team knockout tournament spread over the cities of Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Zvishavane.

This is good news as Zimbabwe was falling far much behind as everywhere in--including Africa in South Africa, Ghana, Algeria, Tunisia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Egypt, Morocco and even in Zambia--football is now in full swing.

For the players themselves, they can't wait to return to the fields following a painful year where they were desperate for the financial spin offs associated with competitive football.

For a start, the knockout tournament is the right way to go about it to experiment whether it would be possible to go back to the old home-and-away points system we had been used to.

What we want to avoid is a repeat of what happened last year when the government gave football the all-clear to return only for the authorities to fail to come up with an acceptable model of competition.

What is also heartening is that top-flight football is returning to Mutare after some time in a province that gave Zimbabwe some of its most skilful and talented players -- whom is Lloyd Mutasa.

However, that football is returning in a knockout form will also have its problems as for the first time, there won't be any relegation from and promotion into the Premier Soccer League.

For the first time too, there won't be any football team to be called the Zimbabwean champions, something that might also affect who will represent Zimbabwe in the Caf Champions League.

However, there is no need to worry about relegation and promotion or who will represent Zimbabwe in Pan-African football because what matters right now is that football returns without hiccups.

There is no need to think much of the Caf Champions League or the Caf Confederation Cup because it is not mandatory to participate in those two Pan-frican football competitions.

At the moment, it does not make any sense for Zimbabwe to field teams in those competitions because Zimbabwean clubs are not ready to compete successfully after a year or so of inactivity.

It would also not make any sense to field teams that will not be able to stand their ground against the best Africa has to offer just for the sake of competing.

The reason why FC Platinum did not go far in both the 2021 Champions League and the Confederation Cup is not that the team was not good enough, but that they were rusty having gone for a year or so without competitive action.

It would not do any good to the country's growing club football reputation if Zimbabwean clubs were to lose again in the first round of the Champions League having been regular participants of the group stages.

Of late, Zimbabwean clubs have consistently reached the group stages with FC Platinum in the round of 16 in 2018 and 2019 following hard on the heels of Caps United's good show in 2017.

However, after one year and five months without football action in the country, Zimbabwean clubs cannot realistically challenge for the African title or even reach the group stages of the Caf Champions League.

What we are simply saying is that for now, and in the year 2022, we should concentrate on building our domestic football back on its feet before deciding to participate in the Caf Champions League and the Confederation Cup.

Taking part in Pan-African club football at this stage will result in humiliation which might end up with our clubs relegated to playing in the preliminary rounds instead of the first round proper.

A stronger domestic league will bear stronger teams for African football since they say, Charity begins at home. At the moment Caf competitions can wait.

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