While Zimbabwe’s Warriors struggle to get international friendly matches, their opponents in the third round matches of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Mali have started their preparations by organising a match against West African giants Ivory Coast next month.
The game has been scheduled for February 9, a day the world soccer-governing body Fifa has set aside for international friendly matches across the globe.
According to reports, the two nations meet in Paris, France, for the game.
“Cote d ’Ivoire Football Federation (Fif) has announced a friendly match with the Mali national team in Paris on February 9. Cote d ’Ivoire officials will be sponsoring the Malian team for the friendly,” according to reports.
Mali defeated DR Congo 3-1 last November in an international friendly, while the Warriors, featuring South Africa-based players beat Mozambique 3-1 in Maputo.
The Elephants, who lead Group H with six points, will be fine-tuning ahead of their round three AFCON qualifying match against Benin, while Mali, second in Group A with three points, will be bracing themselves for the Warriors.
Zifa acting chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze said: “We are in discussions with Niger over a friendly match on that day (February 9). We have a team that has been committed to Chan at the same time so we have to deal with the deployment of human resources for the game and a tournament
“They (Niger) prefer the game to be staged in a French-speaking nation; a neutral venue and have to know what’s in it for Zimbabwe.”
In the Afcon 2012 qualifiers, Zimbabwe are in Group A with Liberia, the Cape Verde Islands and Mali, and lie in third place with two points from two games.
Zimbabwe drew 1-1 with Liberia away in the opening qualifier under Norman Mapeza and were held to a 0-0 draw by Cape Verde at home due to confusion in the technical team.
Belgian Tom Saintfiet had been placed in charge of the team but was deported after conducting his second training session as he had no work permit, leaving Zifa to instal Madinda Ndlovu as acting head coach ahead of the favoured Mapeza.
That caused problems in camp and Zifa fell under pressure from fans to appoint Mapeza, who eventually barked instructions from the touchline during the October game while Ndlovu-termed the co-coach-spent the entire 90 minutes on the bench.
In other African friendlies, the Panthers of Gabon will come up against the Leopards of DR Congo in an international friendly also on February 9 in Paris.
The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations co-hosts have lined up the test against the Leopards to help identify their strengths and weaknesses towards building a formidable team for the tournament slated for next year.
The Congolese on the other hand will be relying on the game as the final preparation ahead of next month’s clash against Mauritius in the qualifiers for the Gabon-Equatorial Guinea 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Leopards have managed a paltry one point from two games and anything short of victory against the Islanders will effectively rule them out of contention for a place at the biennial championship.