Warriors coach Norman Mapeza has said Zimbabwe faces a tough task to qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup finals after being pitted with seven-time African champions Egypt and Guinea in Group G.
Zimbabwe, who moved one place up in the Fifa rankings last Wednesday to 86, survived playing in the preliminaries, giving the cash-strapped Zifa an opportunity to raise funds for the second-round games when they eventually begin in June next year.
The draw was conducted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday and will see five African teams qualifying for the finals from the games that start with the preliminary round on November 11 and run until November 2013.
The draw for the African nations was conducted by Brazilian World Cup winner Cafu and rising star Neymar.
Comoros and Mozambique will play in the preliminary qualifier on November 11 and 15, with the winner becoming the fourth team.
The preliminary round will produce 12 teams to add to the 28 not taking part in the first qualifiers to make it 40.
In round two, the 40 teams will be in 10 groups of four teams each and the 10 group winners will proceed to the last qualifying round.
These games will take place between June 1 and September 10 2013. The last round will have 10 teams to play five home and away matches with the five winners proceeding to Brazil in 2014.
Such is the complex route that Mapeza and his men will have to negotiate to make that dream appearance come true.
Reacting to the draw yesterday, Mapeza said the trick was in picking up maximum points from all home matches.
“It’s not going to be easy at all. Guinea has been doing well of late and are a very good team. Egypt has not been playing well, struggling with their game, but they are still a formidable outfit.
“We have to win all our home games and hope to pick up one point or so in the away games because it’s not easy to get maximum points in Guinea or even in Egypt, so we just have to make sure that we make no mistake at home and win all games by using home advantage.
“Between Mozambique and Comoros, I believe Mozambique will still qualify and so we have to plan for them as well. It’s unfortunate they are playing in the preliminary round, but they have been playing well of late,” Mapeza said.
Mapeza said the Warriors needed to have a strong team for the games and would be happy to have more players moving into the European leagues like — Knowledge Musona — than making South Africa their destiny.
Musona sealed a five-year deal with Hoffeinhem of the German Bundesliga on Thursday.
“It’s a good advantage to have Musona in that league and I expect us to have more players in Europe than in South Africa.
“ We should not make South Africa our destiny, but Europe,” the former Galatasaray of Turkey player said.
According to the draw, Ghana and Ivory Coast were also given tough tasks when the draw for the 2014 World Cup was made in Rio on Saturday.
Ghana, quarter-finalist in the 2010 tournament, will face formidable Zambia and Sudan plus Lesotho or Burundi in one of 10 second-round groups. Ivory Coast drew the second seed no one wanted — Morocco — in a group completed by Gambia and Chad or Tanzania.
The Ivorian Elephants are seeking a third consecutive World Cup appearance.
South Africa got fast-improving neighbours Botswana, Central African Republic and Somalia or Ethiopia.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles can offer no complaints after being put in the same pool as Malawi, Seychelles or Kenya and Djibouti or Namibia.
Algeria will tread warily against Mali and Benin in a pool also including Eritrea or Rwanda, but appear good enough to finish in top spot.
Cameroon, although not currently displaying the form expected of a country holding the African record for World Cup appearances with six, are up against Libya, Guinea Bissau or Togo and Swaziland or the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Although the Congolese are the lowest seeds in this section, they are capable of posing the greatest threat, having forced an away draw with the Indomitable Lions this year in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Senegal, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals nine years ago, must compete with Uganda, Angola and Mauritius or Liberia.
There does not appear to be much between Burkina Faso, ranked fourth on the continent by Fifa, Gabon and Niger in a section that Sâo Tomé e Principé or Congo will complete.
Tunisia are a side on the rise under new coach Sami Trabelsi and it is hard to imagine them not going through after drawing Cape Verde Islands, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea or Madagascar.