Football standards in Southern Africa are poised for a major improvement as the sub-region’s mother body explores partnerships with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

The anticipation follows a meeting in Zimbabwe between visiting UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin, and Phillip Chiyangwa, the President of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA).

The pair met in the premier resort city of Victoria Falls where Ceferin, who is also the Vice President of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), is on a private visit.

He said while the first visit to Zimbabwe was private, he made the most of it to discuss football issues.

I will speak about football in Zimbabwe and COSAFA, Ceferin said.

We (UEFA) are looking forward to helping them (COSAFA) grow football and participating in the development of the game outside Europe, Ceferin added.

UEFA, which is among six Confederations of FIFA, is the most influential and hailed as the most organised of the entities.

On the other hand, COSAFA, a member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), has underachieved in international competitions.

Chiyangwa said COSAFA, the continent’s largest bloc, was taking advantage of the UEFA boss’ visit to discuss how administration of the game could be improved.

Chiyangwa hinted at the possibility of some European teams participating in matches against their Southern African counterparts in charity matches to raise funds for victims of the Cyclone Idai that hit some Southern African countries earlier in 2019.

The floods left hundreds dead of people dead in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe while marginal deaths were also recorded in both South Africa and Madagascar.

Our countries suffered badly when Cyclone Idai hit and the wounds of that disaster (floods) are yet to heal. As football, we can play our part. We are looking at having the Idai Charity match in which some UEFA countries will take part, Chiyangwa disclosed.

He said the matches could be played in the countries affected by the cyclone.

We will also explore the possibilities of having European countries coming here to play football matches against their COSAFA counterparts, Chiyangwa insisted.

Chiyangwa said apart from discussions aimed at attracting the participation of UEFA for the relief of the Idai victims, there were a number of areas COSAFA and UEFA would explore to benefit the local game.

He called for the setting up of a COSAFA Women’s Club Championships, which could be based on UEFA model.

The UEFA Women’s Champions League, previously called the UEFA Women’s Cup involves the top club teams from countries affiliated with the European governing body. It was first played in 2001.

EUFA can teach us a lot in that area, the organisation, how we can get it off the ground, how we can make it attractive to the fans and how we can make it appeal to the sponsors, Chiyangwa said.

COSAFA is the largest of CAF’s six zones, with 14 countries.

These are Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Source: African News Agency