The 2014 World Cup football preliminary round draw takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday night with Zimbabwe hoping for a favourable pairing in the competition after moving one place up in the Fifa world rankings released yesterday.
Last month, Zimbabwe were placed 87th in the world and joint 22nd in Africa with Benin and have moved up one place ahead of the draw and their August 10 international friendly match against Zambia at Rufaro Stadium.
They are now 86th in the world and 21st in Africa, missing out on being seeded in the World Cup draw. Only the top 10 in Africa will be seeded. They stand as Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon, Algeria and Tunisia.
Copa America winners Uruguay have climbed 13 places to number five in the world. Spain remain top, followed by Netherlands, Germany, Brazil and then the Uruguayans. England, Italy, Portugal, Croatia and Argentina round off the top 10.
According to the World Cup draw programme released by world football governing body Fifa on Tuesday, all national associations are expected to send a member for the team seminar set for tomorrow.
There was no confirmation on who will represent Zifa yesterday as chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze was not answering his mobile phone.
The ceremony will be held close to the beautiful Copacabana beach, where four kilometres of white sand stretch across one of the most recognisable districts of Rio. Guests from around the world will convene at the Marina da Gloria harbour to watch the draw.
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, a total of 203 nations have signed up to participate in the campaign. Brazil qualify automatically as hosts and will therefore not be involved in the preliminary draw. Bhutan, Guam, Mauritania and Brunei Darrussalam have not registered for the competition.
There will be no changes with regard to the allocation of places at Brazil 2014. As the Fifa Executive Committee confirmed at the beginning of March, Europe will receive 13 places, Africa 5, South America 4.5, Asia 4.5, North, Central America and Caribbean 3.5 and Oceania 0.5.
There will however be a change to the draw for the playoffs between confederations. The draw for these play-offs will also take place during the preliminary draw.
The preliminary competition formats and draw procedures, which had been presented by the six confederations, were confirmed by the Fifa Executive Committee on May 30.
Given that Brazil, as the host nation, do not need to qualify, the South American Zone will consist of nine teams competing for 4.5 places from a single group.
Zimbabwe have never made it as far as the World Cup finals. They first entered into the African Cup of Nations qualifiers in 1982, qualifying for the first time for the tournament proper in 2004.
The only other time the Warriors reached the finals was in 2006 — on both occasions they were eliminated after the first round.
In the 2010 World and African Cup qualifiers under Brazilian coach Valinhos, Zimbabwe ended up third in their group, ahead of Namibia, but behind Kenya and Guinea. They managed a win over Namibia and three draws — two against Guinea and one against Kenya.
Coach Norman Mapeza is still hoping that the Warriors will qualify for the 2012 edition of Afcon if they manager two wins in the last matches against Liberia on September 4 at home and Cape Verde Islands away on October 7. That would set the tone for a good start to the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.