Warriors stand-in captain Daniel Vheremu has indicated they were not taking the international friendly game against Botswana at UB Stadium in Gaborone, today, lightly as they aimed to rise in the Fifa rankings.
The Warriors ended 2011 ranked 98th in the world.
NewsDay Sport caught up with Vheremu at a Bulawayo restaurant before departure to Gaborone on Thursday.
“It is not a friendly game to us because we are taking it very seriously. We dropped in the last Fifa rankings, so we want to ensure that we rise,” said Vheremu.
The stand-in skipper predicted a 2-1 victory.
The Warriors dropped to 98 in the last Fifa/Coca-Cola world football rankings released last month after two loses to Rwanda and Uganda at the Cecafa championships in Tanzania.
They lost 2-0 to Rwanda and 1-0 to Uganda to fall 28 places and end the year in 24th place in Africa, as they were ranked 70th in the world and 16th in Africa last November.
Vheremu said the game against the Zebras would be a crucial game which they would use it to for the 2013 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers as well as the 2014 World Cup qualifiers this year.
Warriors manager Wellington Mpandare said the game would give coach Norman Mapeza an opportunity to assess other local-based players ahead of the upcoming important national team assignments.
“It is the chance for other players knocking on the doors of the national team to challenge for places,” he said.
Mpandare said they expected a tough contest against the Zebras.
“A loss for us will mean we will fall further on the Fifa rankings, but we have good players in the team who have also been playing together at Under-23 level. Botswana is a very strong squad, so we are not expecting an easy game,” he said.
The last meeting between the two teams was in the 2009 Cosafa semi-final at Barbourfields Stadium which the Warriors won 2-1.
The Zebras who are ranked 96th in the world and 23rd in Africa are using the game to prepare for their maiden appearance in the Afcon finals later this month.
Washington Arubi, George Chigova, Guthrie Zhokinyu, Denver Mukamba, Milton Makopa, Cuthbert Malajila, Rodrick Mutuma, Joel Ngodzo, Charles Sibanda, Daniel Vheremu, Qadr Amini, Tendai Samanja, Conrad Whitby, Masimba Mambara, Pardon Chinungwa, Cliff Sekete, Tapiwa Khumbuyani.