Rangers star Fashion Sakala and Zambia on standby amid Zimbabwe AFCON ban fears

RANGERS star Fashion Sakala and Zambia are on standby to take Zimbabwe’s play in the Africa Cup of Nations should the nation be banned from competing.

FIFA could remove the country from the tournament after threatening a ban unless the Zimbabwean FA regained control of the sport.

The tournament governing body set a date of January 3 for the transfer of power to have been completed, however BBC Sport report a government-appointed organisation is still in charge.

Therefore, Zimbabwe could still face a FIFA sanction and be exiled from the competition with Zambia prepared to step-in as a late call-up after narrowly missing out on qualification.

Zambia FA media officer Sidney Mungala told BBC Sport Africa: “We have followed keenly the development in Zimbabwe and have always remained open to being part of the Nations Cup if Zimbabwe is banned.

“Given the length of the time before the tournament kicks off, we would have hoped that this matter would have been resolved by now.”

Rules state if a nation does not attend the final then the next best team in the group shall progress; this is Zambia who finished a point behind Zimbabwe in their group.

The only other option would be to have the tournament go ahead with one three-team group should Zimbabwe be taken out of the competition and Zambia not brought in.

However, if Zambia are called upon to fill-in for the tournament then it could mean a late scramble to assemble a squad.

And Rangers star Sakala would likely be on the list of players the FA would hope to call-up. It’s not certain the players would be released by clubs due to the late call-up but the FA are hopeful the chance of representing their country would tempt players to leave club duties.

It’s unlikely Rangers would release Sakala on such short notice with games returning on January 18 – however Mungala is hopeful FIFA regulations would help Zambia if the late call-up comes to fruition.

He said: “It would definitely present a challenge but we believe the Caf/Fifa regulations would be able to help us should the situation arise where we become part of the Nations Cup.

“Additionally, we believe our players would relish the opportunity to represent their country at the continent’s biggest showpiece.”

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