The Confederation of African Football are launching an investigation into allegations of witchcraft made against African Nations Championship hosts Cameroon by Zimbabwe national team coach Zdravko Logarusic.
Ahead of Saturday’s Chan opener – a 1-0 victory for the Indomitable Lions over the Warriors – an image emerged of Logarusic, standing over the carcass of a bat he found on the centre-circle, with a note accusing the hosts of witchcraft.
CHAN 2021 opener in Yaoundé overshadowed by pre-match accusations of witchcraft from the hosts by Zimbabwe coach Logarusic after a bat carcass is found on the pitch— Ed Dove (@EddyDove) January 16, 2021
Complete coincidence or foul play? #CHAN2021 #CMRZIM pic.twitter.com/TjaJA1YFLV
When questioned by Goal about the allegations made against the hosts, Caf have confirmed that they will be looking into the matter and that Cameroon can expect sanctions if evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered.
“Issues of witchcraft are not the prerogative of Caf,” a Caf official told Goal. “We have launched an investigation into the said action and if there is a breach of the regulations of the tournament, appropriate sanctions will be handed out accordingly.”
Ultimately, Salomon Banga Bindjeme’s acrobatic opener was enough for an over-eager Cameroon to take all three points in their opener against a Zimbabwe team whose domestic league has been suspended since March 2020.
However, Zimbabwe’s sense of disappointment at the defeat was likely tempered by a burning sense of injustice at the hosts’ attempts to allegedly resort to the dark arts in order to gain an advantage in the encounter.
This is not the first time that Cameroon have been accused of resorting to the dark arts in order to influence a competitive fixture.
In the Afcon 2002 semi-final between Mali and the Indomitable Lions, Cameroon coach Winfried Schafer and goalkeeping coach (and national team legend) Thomas Nkono were arrested by riot police after allegedly placing a charm on the pitch ahead of the fixture.
"We are no more willing to see witch doctors on the pitch than cannibals at the concession stands," said a spokesperson for Caf in the aftermath of a previous incident involving the Nigerian Football Association at the 2000 edition of the Nations Cup.
In Group A’s other match on Saturday, Mali defeated Burkina Faso to move level with Cameroon at the top of the group.
The Eagles face the Indomitable Lions in their second group game, also in Yaounde, on Wednesday, before Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe meet at the same venue later that evening.