LOCAL referees have mountains to climb before possible recommendation for Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) duty or they will continue to be bypassed for the elite bi-annual tournament, an official has said.
This comes in the aftermath of local officials failing to make the grade for the 2019 Afcon finals to be played in Egypt from 21 June to 19 July.
Zifa referees committee chairman Bryton Malandule explained that it should not come as a surprise that local referees failed to make the grade for Afcon duty as the match officials were not even part of the lesser Cosafa panel.
“For our referees to be recommended for Afcon duty they should be on the Elite A list of the Cosafa panel of referees, which is not the case at the moment.
“In addition to that, it should be noted that Caf selected the 2019 Afcon finals panel from the pool of match officials that did duty in the last edition of the tournament in 2017, which again is why we find ourselves without a single referee in Egypt,” said Malandule.
The referees committee chairman said it was important for Zifa to work on a roadmap that will see local referees break into the Cosafa referees panel first before even thinking of officiating at Afcon finals in future.
“The country has a panel of 80 referees, both male and female, so we need to select our finest match officials, give them enough professional game time to gain experience, mentor them and ultimately recommend them into the Cosafa Elite A panel for possible future recommendation into the Caf panel.
“To that end, it’s also important that we groom young referees around the age of 25 because they are the future of refereeing,” he said.
Retirement age for referees is between 40 and 45 years.
There has been an outcry after local referees were snubbed for the Afcon finals in Egypt.
Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Seychelles, Zambia and Angola are the only Cosafa countries that will have referees taking part at the 2019 Afcon while Lesotho, Madagascar and Mozambique will have assistant referees.