Bafana left in three-nation Afcon Group K after Zimbabwe lost appeal

Zimbabwe and Kenya have been barred from taking part in the next edition of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualification round after they failed to have their suspensions lifted by world football governing body Fifa.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Tuesday that the two national football associations “failed to have their suspensions by Fifa set aside”.

The move leaves Bafana Bafana Group K of the qualifiers open as Zimbabwe was drawn in the same group with Bafana Bafana, Morocco and Liberia, while Kenya is in Group C along with Burundi, Cameroon and Namibia.

In February this year, Fifa suspended both federations due to “government interference”, something that the global body does not encourages and detests. Fifa is known for coming hard on countries that have governments interfering in the running of football.

“As a consequence of having failed to have their suspensions by Fifa set aside, CAF has confirmed that both Kenya and Zimbabwe will not participate in the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 qualifiers,” reads the CAF statement.

“The qualifiers will kick off on the first day of June 2022. CAF had included them in the official draw earlier in April 2022 on condition that the suspension must be lifted two weeks before their first match day.

“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.”

The next edition of Afcon will be held in the Ivory Coast next year with two of the winners in each of the 12 groups qualifying for the final 24-nation tournament.

Because of the suspension, the following will apply: 

*  The two associations; Football Kenya Federation and the Zimbabwe Football Association will be considered losers and eliminated from the competition.

* Groups C and K will be composed of only 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 for the final tournament.

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