Libya to bailout bid?

HARARE - Zimbabwe will seek financial support from Libya in the country’s quest to replace the war-torn North African country as 2017 Africa Cup of Nations host, cabinet ministers said yesterday.

Libya withdrew from hosting the 2017 tournament due to delays in its plans to build new stadia, which were complicated by ongoing fighting in the country.

The Libyans had reportedly tabled a budget of around $300 million before giving up its right to hosts following a meeting with Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Issa Hayatou.

Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF government enjoy cordial relations with Tripoli. 

Zimbabwe yesterday confirmed it will bid for the tournament before the deadline expires on September 20.

This was said during a joint-press conference between Andrew Langa and Walter Mzembi, Sports and Tourism ministers respectively.

“Libya, who has been an all-weather friend of Zimbabwe, could be engaged by Zimbabwe to maintain and retain their tournament presence by financially and materially endorsing and supporting Zimbabwe’s bid to replace them and that engagement can be done at government as well as football level,” Langa said yesterday.

Zimbabwe have resorted to joint bid for the 2017 edition as they fall short of Confederation of African Football (Caf)’s recommendations of being the sole Afcon host nation.

Caf Article 32 stipulates that the host country must have previously staged at least one of various major African football tournaments.

These tournaments include the Under-20 African Championships, the Under-13 African Championships, the Caf Women’s Championships and the African Nations Championships (Chan).

Zimbabwe has hosted none.

A Technical Committee putting together Zimbabwe’s bid, has thus engaged Zambia, South Africa as well as other neighbouring nations in a bid to land African football’s greatest showpiece.

Zambia have made it known that their sights are on staging the 2019 edition on their own.

However, Zifa Zimbabwe hope they can lure the Zambians on a technicality.

Zimbabwe is banking on Zambia losing their bid to host the 2019 edition, which is also being contested by Algeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

“We are waiting for the announcement which will come out tomorrow. If they lose then 2017 they will be here,” assured Langa.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi allayed fears of the dilapidated state of the country’s infrastructure, re-iterating that he had signed an Mou with China which would see the Asian country building new and developing already existing stadia.

Mzembi said Zimbabwe has the capacity to host “800 000 visitors”.

“I want to explain that bidding is not an event, it is a process. Between now and the September 30 we will be consulting with various committees to look into some of the logistics that need to be done,” Mzembi said.

“From now henceforth, brand Zimbabwe will be under spotlight. There couldn’t be a better start than the lighting of the Youth Games torch by his Excellency (President Robert Mugabe at State House yesterday).

“The totality of the Zimbabwean brand will be under spotlight.

“It calls for the support of the entire nation that’s why we sought the backing of the President. I’m subscribed to various platforms and networks and I can tell you we have the entire backing of the public. Zimbabwe wants this.”

Langa acknowledged that Zimbabwe would need to facelift its stadia to successfully bid.

“Zimbabwe boasts of the following Caf approved match venues; the National Sports Stadium, Gwanzura Stadium, Luveve Stadium and Barbourfields Stadium,” Langa said.

“The aforementioned stadia according to Caf standards should have a minimum seating capacity of 20 000 spectators.

“There will be need for upgrade of Luveve and Gwanzura. Bulawayo and Harare have up to eight training venues to be used for the participating teams.”

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