14 Nov 2018 14:10pm
By Maqonda Ndlovu
WINDHOEK, 14 NOV (NAMPA) Namibia Football Association (NFA) officials have traded accusations following the withdrawal of the national Under-23 football team from the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
The team was supposed to play Angola in the first leg of the 2020 Africa Qualifiers in Luanda on Friday before hosting the return leg in Windhoek on 20 November.
The withdrawal by Namibia means South Africa will now progress to the third round of the competition.
NFA secretary general Barry Rukoro on Tuesday told Nampa it was a heart-breaking decision for the association to withdraw the squad, but one that had to be made due to limited resources.
He said it was impossible for the NFA to have the national football team and the U-23 team playing on the same weekend.
Our funds are limited, we had to sacrifice the Under-23 teams trip to Angola for the Brave Warriors. We are busy assessing the Under-20 teams participation at the Cosafa (Council of Southern Africa Football Associations) tournament in Zambia scheduled for December as well, explained Rukoro.
When pressed on why the NFA lacked funds, Rukoro said the International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) had made the funds available for the association to use for these matches, but NFA President Frans Mbidi allegedly refused to sign for its release.
Rukoro said he was aware that the NFA will be drawing possible penalties from Fifa, which may include a fine or a ban or both.
It is a big setback because we were looking forward to seeing this Under-23 team participate in the Olympic qualifiers. The plan has always been to develop them to be the players who challenge the current Brave Warriors. Unfortunately, they have been denied that possibility.
Rukoro called on the membership of the association to take action against people responsible for the failure of the team to participate in the tournament.
Contacted for comment on Wednesday to clarify his role in the withdrawal of the squad, Mbidi distanced himself from the accusations, saying he was removed by the NFA executive committee (Exco).
He referred to the resolutions taken by the Exco on 27 October which amongst other things, removed Mbidi from the NFA presidency for various reasons.
The resolutions also included notifying stakeholders like banks and other service providers that Mbidi was persona non grata at the NFA.
The Exco needs to reinstate me, they made a resolution to remove me as a signatory of the association, so how can I sign for these things after they removed me? The acting president can respond to you on why the Fifa funds cannot be accessed, he said.
Mbidi further called on the Exco to reinstate him, saying Fifa will not release the funds as long as Rukoro is a signatory to any request from NFA.
His contract expired on 21 March 2018. How is he making requests to Fifa when he is not recognised? The Exco has ignored Fifa and Government directives to reinstate me as president of the NFA, said Mbidi.
He also cautioned the public from believing stories circulating on social and mainstream media, saying they have created a dangerous environment which now sees certain individuals in the football fraternity being victimised.
I can no longer walk in the streets freely as football members of the public now see me as a bad person and want to attack me. My integrity has been soiled by the current happenings at Football House, Mbidi added.
NFA acting president Naftal Ngalangi said the Exco had complied with Fifa regarding Mbidis position and they are awaiting a response from the football mother body on the issue.