Disappointed fans blast Zifa

HARARE – Angry fans have torn into the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) for causing the confusion that ensued following the cancellation of Zimbabwe’s Chan qualifier against Zambia on Sunday.

The match was called off after Cameroonian match officials, Juenkon Wadji, Noupue Nguegoue, Lambi Fuanta and Nde Christopher Ade were left stranded at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya (JKIA).

The international arrivals terminal at JKIA was gutted by fire last Wednesday leaving Kenyan aviation officials with a headache due to the large number of stranded travellers.

By Sunday morning it was apparent that the Cameroonian match officials would find it difficult to make it to Harare in time for the match but Zifa went ahead to open the gates at Rufaro Stadium.

An estimated 4 000 paid to enter Rufaro not knowing that the match would fail to take place.

Both teams never left their respective hotels as officials from the Zifa and the Football Association of Zambian (Faz) were locked in meetings with the match commissioner Ian McLeod of South Africa.

Those fans that paid to enter the stadium were left frustrated as the match failed to take place.

“They (Zifa) knew the Cameroonian referees were stranded in Kenya but they still opened the gates and we paid to come in,” one Warriors fan by the name of Charles Govha ranted on Sunday.

Another Warriors fan Tapiwa Nyamukana was in a quandary after losing his ticket just as he entered the stadium.

“I’m hurt because I wanted to see the Warriors in action. But what has hurt me more is that I threw away my ticket because I didn’t expect this to happen,” he said.

“Now I’m being told I need that ticket to show that I paid so I get a refund, it’s frustrating.”

It was not only the Zimbabwean fans that were left disappointed by the development.

Chipolopolo fan Ben Mwale, who travelled by bus from Lusaka, also added his voice to the growing choir of discontentment.

“We spent a lot of money to come here and this is obviously frustrating. It’s disappointing,” he said.

Another staunch Zambian fan Richard Soko, who was among the 400 Chipolopolo fans at Rufaro, said Zifa should shoulder some of the responsibility for the referees’ failure to pitch up.

“Why didn’t they re-route the referees, everyone knew the Nairobi airport went up in flames on Wednesday,” he said.

“What I can say is that they (Warriors) knew they were going to lose. I want to appeal to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) as soccer fans of Zambia that the match should be played at a neutral venue so that Zimbabwe also feels the pinch.

“We beat Botswana last week and they knew they were next.  We came with 400 supporters but next Sunday we are coming with 2000 supporters we are going to show them that we are champions.”

The match between the two southern African neighbours will now take place this Sunday at the same venue.

Both teams will be eyeing a final place at the Chan finals to be hosted by South Africa next year.

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