The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has decided to expel both Kenya and Zimbabwe from the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 qualifiers.
According to CAF, this was as a consequence of not having their respective suspensions by FIFA set aside before the deadline given to them by CAF. The qualifiers will kick-off on the first day of June 2022.
CAF included the two countries in the official draw earlier in April 2022 on condition that the suspension will be lifted two weeks before their first match day but this did not materialize.
“Kenya and Zimbabwe, suspended for political interference, have not yet met the criteria required by the FIFA Congress as a prerequisite for lifting their suspension”, CAF noted in a statement.
As a result of the suspension, CAF stated that the two associations, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), will be considered losers and eliminated from the competition.
“Groups C and K will be composed only of three teams and the order of the matches will be maintained in accordance with the match schedule that has been communicated to the teams after the draw. The first and runner-up teams of those groups will qualify to the final tournament”.CAF
The FIFA Council suspended Kenya on February 24, 2022 with immediate effect due to third party interference, in particular, the takeover of football by a caretaker committee appointed by the government, which is a serious violation of FIFA’s statutes.
“It is therefore recommended that the congress confirm the suspension of the Football Kenya Federation, enabling the council to lift the suspension immediately and as soon as the pertinent requirements have been fulfilled”, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, said as he announced Kenya’s suspension.
FIFA’s 198 members voted to support the sanction at the global football governing body’s 72nd congress held on March 31, 2022, in Doha, Qatar.
Group permutations after the suspension
The Harambee Stars of Kenya were drawn in Group C alongside Cameroon, Namibia, and Burundi. With just 3 teams in the Group, the doors are now widely opened for either Namibia or Burundi to qualify for the 2023 AFCON, as the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon remain favorites to top the group.
Namibia failed to qualify for Cameroon 2021 after making 3 previous appearances in the competition (1998, 2008, 2019). The Brave Warriors of Namibia have failed to progress beyond the group stages in all three.
Meanwhile, the Swallows of Burundi have only made one previous AFCON appearance (2019) and will be hoping to return to the continental level next year. Both teams will square off in the first Group match on June 4, 2022 in Johannesburg, South Africa before Burundi faces off with Cameroon in June 8, 2022.
On the other hand, Zimbabwe was drawn in Group K for the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, alongside Morocco, South Africa, and Liberia.
The suspension of the Warriors of Zimbabwe will further brighten the chances of the Bafana Bafana of South Africa to return to the continental showpiece in 2023. Bafana Bafana – the 1996 AFCON champions – missed out of the continental showpiece in Cameroon last year. Hugo Broos’ side’s last appearance was in 2019 when they reached the quarter-finals in Egypt.
READ ALSO: BoG Data Signals Strong Growth In Q1 2022
Leave a Reply