ZANZIBAR was accepted as a member of Confederation of African Football (CAF) yesterday, becoming the 55th member of the continental football’s governing body.
The CAF general assembly held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, unanimously approved the proposal for the admission of Zanzibar presented by Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) President, Jamal Malinzi.
The decision opens the way for the semi-autonomous Island to field her national team in various competitions organised by the continental body.
TFF President Malinzi made a successful presentation on behalf of the Zanzibar FA asking the assembly to admit the isles. “Zanzibar has been active over the years and it has a running league and they are independent. I don’t see why they should not be admitted as an independent federation because they have their own constitution and statutes,” Malinzi told the CAF assembly.
With the new status, Zanzibar will be fully in charge of their national teams and will get direct funding from CAF and FIFA.
However, the Indian Ocean Isles will have to wait until 2021 onwards to be eligible to enter the qualifiers for the African Nations Cup. Zanzibar, which is part of the United Republic of Tanzania, had been seeking entry as the latest full member and received support from across the continent at the organisation’s congress in Addis Ababa.
Zanzibar has been associate member since 2005, with her clubs playing in the CAF’s club competitions but at the national team level, they competed jointly as Tanzania. They are the first new full member association voted into the fold since South Sudan in 2012.
The decision to admit Zanzibar will see Africa cement its position as the largest football bloc at FIFA, making the continent a key power broker at the world governing body.
Zanzibar have also been pushing for FIFA membership and had their requests for world football governing body membership rejected in 2005 and 2011 on the basis that it forms part of a union with Mainland Tanzania and is not a sovereign state.
On Tuesday, Tanzania national team, Taifa Stars coach Salum Mayanga named his squad for CHAN and AFCON qualifiers, leaving aside players from Zanzibar in anticipation that the latter will be admitted by CAF and eventually field their own team in the qualifiers.
But with Zanzibar’s participation in continental competition set to start in a couple of years from now, Mayanga will have to reincorporate the Isles players in his squad for now.
It is likely that key defenders Haji Mwinyi and Aggrey Morris will be back in the fold ahead of two friendly matches against Botswana on March 25 and Burundi on March 28, both to be staged at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.