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Warriors in early 2013 Afcon start

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The Warriors will have to quickly put the horrors of their failed Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers battle behind them when they start a new campaign for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations early next year.

Zimbabwe, who failed to qualify for the 2012 Afcon to be staged in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next month, will start their 2013 Afcon qualifying campaign set for South Africa with a second round qualifying match against Burundi.

The Warriors travel to Bujumbura on February 29 and the Swallows of Burundi will fly to Harare for the reverse fixture on the weekend of June 15-17.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) released the dates at the weekend together with fixtures of their two inter-club competitions — the Champions League and the Confederation Cup.
If the Warriors manage to beat Burundi, they will join the other 13 teams that would have qualified from that stage.

The second round qualifiers will be contested by the 28 teams that failed to make it into next months’ Nations Cup tournament.

It is at this stage that some of the continent’s superpowers who embarrassingly failed to qualify for Gabon, enter the field.

The big names that failed for next year’s Afcon include former continental champions Egypt, Cameroon and Nigeria.

The 14 teams that qualify from this stage will enter the third round where they will be joined by the 16 teams playing at the 2012 finals.

The games will be played on the weekend of September 7-9 and the reverse fixtures on the weekend of 12-14. The 15 countries that will progress from this round will be joined by hosts South Africa for the games.

Warriors coach Norman Mapeza will gauge his team’s strength against Botswana in an international friendly in Gaborone on the weekend of January 7-8.

He will have all his players from the Absa Premiership available for the match as the season goes on a break due to the Afcon finals until February.

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