Rangers could be affected by a pre-Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) development, as Zimbabwe reportedly face expulsion from the tournament.
Zimbabwe are due to play their first AFCON Group B fixture against Senegal on Monday.
However, The Warriors may not actually be allowed to take part in the tournament due to issues with the governance of the game in the southern African nation.
It’s said that the government, not the FA, are currently running things, with FIFA previously threatening a ban should the situation be unresolved by 3rd January [BBC Sport Africa].
Clearly, that deadline has now passed, and so their participation at the upcoming AFCON is in doubt.
If they are expelled from the competition, Zambia would be in line to take their place, having finished runners-up in the qualifying group Zimbabwe topped.
And that’s where Rangers come in.
Summer signing Fashion Sakala is a key player for Zambia, scoring five times in their last three matches.
He hasn’t nailed down a Gers starting berth yet but he’s featured in five of Gio van Bronckhorst’s seven league matches in charge and he could miss several fixtures if Zambia replace Zimbabwe and do well in the competition.
Group B fixtures are set to conclude on the same day that Rangers return to action against Aberdeen following the winter break, and the the Light Blues are in action again three days later against Stirling Albion in the Scottish Cup.
With AFCON running until 6th February, if Zambia were to defy the odds and go all the way, the pacy attacker would also miss fixtures against Livingston, Ross County, Celtic and Hearts.
Sidney Mungala, the Zambian FA’s media officer, thinks players will jump at the opportunity to get involved in the tournament if the opportunity presents itself.
“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,” he told BBC Sport Africa.
“Additionally, we believe our players would relish the opportunity to represent their country at the continent’s biggest showpiece.”
However, BBC Sport Africa does report that it’s also possible that Group B could go ahead with only three teams, or, should Zambia be granted entry at the last minute, the Gers could refuse to release Sakala.
It’s an interesting situation but Bears will certainly be hoping for a solution that sees the 24-year-old stay put in Glasgow.