The country’s senior men’s national soccer team —the Warriors —will likely miss out on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers should the ban imposed on the country by FIFA not be lifted by July 12.

Zimbabwe was suspended by the world governing body in February last year, after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended the Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA executive for a litany of allegations, chief among them failure to account for public funds.

Consequently,  the Warriors missed out on the Afcon 2023 qualifiers, and will not be at the biannual spectacle for the first time since 2017.

As FIFA insists on the unconditional reinstatement of the Kamambo-led board as the only condition for the suspension to be lifted, the Warriors will likely miss out on the expanded World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

For the first time in the history of the global spectacle,  Africa will have nine spots at the 2026 edition —to be hosted in Canada,  Mexico and the United States.

CAF announced this week that the draw for the World Cup qualifiers for Africa will take place in Benin on July 12, while the qualifiers will start in November 2023.

“On the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers, the Executive Committee approved the format, dates of the Qualifiers. The new format has been adapted in line with FIFA’s expanded FIFA World Cup format and will involve all the 54 Member Associations of CAF who will be divided into nine (9) Groups,” CAF said in a statement.

“Winners of each Group will automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2026. The four best runners-up (from the Groups) will play in a CAF Play-Off tournament. The winner (CAF Play-Off tournament) will play in the FIFA Play-off Tournament.

“The Executive Committee announced that the Official Draw of the FIFA World Cup 2026 African Qualifiers will be on Wednesday 12 July 2023 in Cotonou, Benin – the night before the 45th CAF Ordinary General Assembly.”

A FIFA delegation was in the country earlier this month, and met with officials from the SRC, as well as the suspended Kamambo-led executive to map the way forward and end the impasse.

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