Olympic qualifiers hang in balance for COSAFA nations

It was a busy weekend of action for men and women’s teams from the COSAFA region as they sought to take a step closer to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.

In the men’s qualifying competition, where the teams are restricted to using players aged 23 or under, Zimbabwe were held to a 1-1 draw by South Africa in Harare.

Keagan Dolly gave the visitors the lead midway through the second half, but Walter Musona equalised for the Zimbabweans six minutes from time.

Zambia managed an excellent 0-0 draw away from home against Ivory Coast and will fancy their chances with the home leg to come.

The only worry is the lack of an away goal, but they must be confident of completing the job at home.

In the women’s qualifiers, which feature the full senior national teams, South Africa scraped a 1-0 home win over Kenya and still have much work to do in the return in Nairobi.

Lebogang Ramalepe scored the only goal for the home side.

The Zimbabwe women’s side failed to travel for their tie in Ivory Coast due to a lack of funds and it is likely they will have to forfeit the tie.

“The Zimbabwe Football Association sincerely apologises to the football family and the nation at large for the senior women’s team, the Mighty Warriors’ failure to travel on time to fulfil an Olympic Games qualifier against Cote d’Ivoire scheduled for July 19, 2015,” ZIFA said in a statement.

“The team was set to leave on Friday evening but due to logistical challenges which could not be rectified on time, the trip failed to materialise.

“We deeply regret the inconveniences such an unfortunate development has brought on the players, the technical team and every football loving Zimbabwean.

“As the supreme football governing body, we take full responsibility of the team’s failure to fulfil the important encounter but we still appeal for external financial assistance with regards to organising international matches.”