The national senior football team’s loss away to minnows Burundi came back to haunt them as they continued their gradual slide by disappearing from the top 100 of the Fifa/Coca-Cola World Rankings released yesterday.
A makeshift Warriors side lost 2-1 away to Burundi last month in the second round, first leg 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying match at the Prince Louis Stadium in Bujumbura.
The consequences of that defeat were strongly felt yesterday after the Warriors tumbled seven places from position 99 to 106th in the world. In contrast, their opponents, Burundi, who were ranked 143 prior to the match in Bujumbura, gained some ground by jumping 11 places to position 132.
Zimbabwe also slid four places on the continental charts from number 23 to 27 while the Swallows of Burundi gained two places from number 41 to position 39.
The last time the rankings were reviewed on February 15, the Warriors just about managed to squeeze in into the top 100 after jumping three places from 102 to position 99.
It has been a spectacular decline by the Warriors, who only in August last year were ranked a respectable 66th in the world and 14 on the continent following the famous home win over Mali.
Although preparations for the match against Burundi were not ideal, the Warriors were still expected to come back home with a favourable result.
Zifa board’s decision to indefinitely ban 90 players implicated in Asiagate match-fixing scandal ruled out the bulk of players who had represented the country in the failed 2012 Afcon bid.
This left caretaker coach Rahman Gumbo with a shallow pool of players to draw his squad from without key players such as Ovidy Karuru, Khama Billiat, Thomas Sweswe and Willard Katsande.
The second leg of the qualifiers for the finals to be hosted by South Africa will be played at Rufaro in June, the same month Warriors kick-start their journey for the Brazil 2014 World Cup where they have been drawn with Egypt, Guinea and Mozambique.
Meanwhile, 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finalists Ivory Coast managed to hold on to top spot in Africa, followed by Ghana.
Algeria cling on to third, with continental champions Zambia enjoying fourth position.
Mali are in fifth, while the remainder of the top 10 is filled by Gabon, Libya, Tunisia, Nigeria and South Africa.
Ivory Coast’s 15th position in the world rankings is also just one place off their previous best, which they achieved in June 2011.
World and European champions Spain remain at the top of Fifa’s monthly world rankings while the Netherlands have regained the second spot and Argentina return to the top 10.
Uruguay are at number four, followed by Brazil who rose two places to fifth. England and Portugal each fell one place to sixth and seventh respectively.
The next Fifa/Coca-Cola rankings will be published on April 11.