Cote d’Ivoire became the first country to proceed to the final qualifying round of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games women football tournament after Zimbabwe failed to show up for the first leg of the third round on Sunday in Abidjan.
Clementine Toure’s charges have not had to kick a ball yet in the qualification series – their opponents in the second round, Tunisia also withdrew – but will face either Ghana or Cameroon in the fourth round for a place at next year’s Olympics.
Lack of funds has been given as the reason why the Mighty Warriors of Zimbabwe could not make the trip for their important match and the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) has apologised to the entire country for the let down.
The letter quoted by football411.com reads:
“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 19 July 2015.
“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 fulfill the important encounter but we still appeal for external financial assistance with regards to organising international matches.
“We approached government, through the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture to assist but the government is also financially constrained hence they could not salvage the misfortune.
“When we affiliated to the competition, we submitted our budget to the Sports and recreation Commission but due to the harsh economic environment, even the government cannot afford to entirely bankroll football national teams’ assignments.”
Already, ZIFA has issues to settle with the players as unpaid bonuses and allowances made the team boycott training twice prior to the supposed date of their departure.
According to NewsDay, a Zimbabwean online newspaper, the debt dates back to last year’s African Women Championship first round qualifier against Botswana in March.