SPORT, Arts and Culture Minister, Andrew Langa, says the Warriors will play in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers despite ZIFA’s failure to settle the debt owed to Brazilian coach Valinhos by the Sunday deadline.
ZIFA needed to have paid the $81 000 by Sunday.
A FIFA delegation, which was in the country last month, met with Langa and ZIFA officials and said the Warriors could be allowed back into the qualifiers should the payment be done by the end of last month.
The draw for the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia would be conducted next month on July 25.
Yesterday, Langa, said while ZIFA were yet to pay the debt, it was going to be settled.
“Certainly we will participate as a country, ZIFA haven’t paid yet but they are seized with the matter. Of course, they have taken time and on Friday we spoke about it.
“But I have to assure the nation that certainly we will participate. The delay is a concern but ZIFA are working hard to sort it.
“I am aware of the 31 May deadline but what I can assure you is that the country we will definitely participate,” he said.
Langa, could not be drawn to comment on how the association was going to be re-admitted when the deadline has lapsed. Last month, the Minister was quoted in our sister paper Chronicle, soon after meeting the FIFA delegation, that failure to meet the latest deadline would mean waving goodbye to World Cup hopes.
“FIFA said we should pay the Valinhos debt by the end of this month, failure of which we will kiss participation in the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifiers goodbye,” Langa said then.
“ZIFA have not tabled a debt extinguishing strategy but as a ministry we will definitely engage Treasury about that.”
But yesterday the minister was singing a different tune and gave hope that it might not be too late to get the mess sorted out. The minister all took the opportunity to congratulate the national teams which were successful at the weekend.
“I would like to congratulate the Mighty Warriors for having progressed to second round of the Olympic qualifiers, they have done the country proud.
“We also congratulate the Young Warriors who progressed despite being held in Swaziland. They have done us proud as a country.