Warriors MISS OUT on AFCON Preps

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The Zimbabwe soccer team aka the Warriors might have missed one of the first two international football breaks to prepare for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Gabon in January as Zifa were by yesterday yet to tie down an opponent.

This weekend is set aside for the Fifa 2018 World Cup qualifiers which the Warriors are not part of, but it appears the football mother body is failing to organise any meaningful friendly match for the team.

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With the Super Eagles of Nigeria flying out to Zambia for their World Cup qualifier on Sunday, Zifa had hoped to take advantage and engage them on their way to Zambia.

Reports had also suggested the Warriors could play neighbours Zambia as part of their preparations for the January tournament.

But with all their targeted opponents, including Senegal, preoccupied with their respective World Cup assignments, and with just four days left before the crucial qualifiers, chances of Zifa securing an opponent during this break are almost next to nothing.

Senegal host Cape Verde on Saturday.

With countries like Uganda, Togo and Guinea Bissau, who have also secured qualification for Gabon football fiesta and are out of the World Cup qualifiers, it is surprising how Zifa could have failed to take advantage to negotiate for a match with them.

Togo had been on the prowl for an opponent for this break and ended up tying down Mozambique for a friendly on Sunday, a team that failed to qualify for the Afcon finals and is out of the World Cup qualifiers.

Interestingly, Uganda’s Serbian coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic is a good friend of Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa.

Micho has described the Warriors as a group of talented players who can make a mark at the January tournament.

His team, which qualified as the best runners-up, was beaten 2-0 by the Warriors in a warm-up game at Rufaro Stadium in June.

Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela appeared to suggest it was no longer possible for the association to secure an opponent during this break.

Even so, Gwesela insisted yesterday they were still in discussions with several countries.

“We are still negotiating with a number of countries. You will get the official position tomorrow (today). Remember this is not the only international break left, there is still another break in November,” Gwesela said.

Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa has claimed several big teams are willing to play the Warriors following their impressive run in the Afcon qualifiers where they booked their ticket with one match to spare.

It however, appears there is little or no substance in Chiyangwa’s utterances, which have been widely published in the local media in recent weeks.

Zimbabwe will, for the first time in 10 years, dine with the big boys at the Afcon table in Gabon in January next year after they defeated Malawi in June to secure qualification with a game to spare.

The Pasuwa-coached side has been named as one of the bottom seeds for the tournament draw which takes place on October 19.

Pasuwa’s men were placed in pot four, which means they cannot be drawn alongside some of the relatively weaker nations at the tournament that include Uganda, Guinea Bissau and Togo.

They will draw one of Cameroon, Senegal, Morocco and Egypt from pot three, while there is the prospect of being placed in the same pool as Mali, Tunisia, Burkina Faso or the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pot one contains hosts Gabon, holders Ivory Coast, Ghana and Algeria.

To best prepare his team for the tough tournament, Pasuwa had requested for friendlies with North or West African nations.

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