Botswana and Nambia recently announced their intensions to bring the African football tournament, Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), to the southern Africa part of the continent in 2027 in a joint bid dubbed BONA 2027. While the two neighboring countries are banking on their close and cordial bilateral relations, it has emerged that they are open to accepting one of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries to join them in the bid.
Highly placed sources close to the development have told BG Sport that Zimbabwe has been discussed during the meetings of the government officials of the two countries.
The three countries are bound together by geography, history and culture, which have strengthened their bilateral relations over the years. Botswana has signed over 20 memorandum of understandings (MOUs) as part of the set 43 to cover cooperation and bolster various sectors of the economy.
Reports indicates that the idea has been given ‘thumbs-up’ as it could further enhance the two countries’ argument to hosts the AFCON finals in 2027,
The Bid Committee Chairperson, Ashford Mamelodi, when outlining their plans to host the AFCON finals last month, reiterated the economic importance which could result from hosting the finals in the region and it has emerged that Botswana and Namibia are also keen to empower their close neighbour.
However, the two government’s efforts will meet a serious stumbling block as Zimbabwe are currently banned from football activities by FIFA due to reported governmental interference in the running of the game.. Zimbabwe's FA, according to reports in the country, was suspended by its government after being accused of ‘gross incompetence’. The ban will only be lifted once the conditions set by FIFA have been met, which include the unconditional reinstatement of the Felton Kamambo-led Zifa board.
The latest information relating to the matter is that, Confederations of African Football (CAF) has requested for the immediate reinstatement of the previous Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) administration.
Close information emanating from Zimbabwe is that the sports authorities have not acted on the request of both FIFA and CAF hence the ban stands.
The suspended ZIFA executive members also wrote to the prosecutor general at FIFA seeking permission to be allowed to attend the global football meeting or to be part of any government-appointed delegation entrusted to engage FIFA for a solution to the impasse. Zimbabwean football clubs are also currently barred from representing the country in continental competitions such as the CAF champions’ league and CAF Confederation Cup while local referees have also not been considered for international assignments.
The BONA government officials are reportedly planning to engage with their counter-parts in Zimbabwe and deliberate on the matter. They are confident that a solution can be reached before making official bid to CAF.
Botswana and Namibia have already made positive strides in their bid to host, the two countries have reportedly already identified facility auditor who has hit the ground running as they look to place themselves in a perfect position to land the bid.
Their growing confidence to be successful has also been spurred by the fact that the COSAFA region has thrown its weight behind to the two nations.
Two northern African countries have also reportedly assured the BONA officials of their support.