THE Warriors have been placed in Pot three for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations which will be held in Morocco after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) revealed the seeding for the draw yesterday.
REPORT BY WELLINGTON TONI/TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
Zimbabwe, ranked 100 in the world and 27 in Africa, have been placed in pot three together with Angola — who knocked them out of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals staged in South Africa — World Cup opponents Mozambique, Burundi and Ethiopia.
There is also Benin, Niger, Equatorial Guinea, Malawi, Liberia and Sudan.
Recently crowned African champions Nigeria head Pot one with Afcon 2013 losing finalists Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and the quartet of former champions South Africa, Zambia, Tunisia and Ghana.
The draw will take place on March 10 in Morocco during the Caf General Assembly, with the qualification procedure reverting to its normal format as opposed to the modified mode for the just-concluded edition.
Forty-four teams are on the starting line and are seeded in four pots of 11 teams each according to their current ranking.
Meanwhile, the Warriors will play Egypt in Alexandria in a 2014 World Cup qualifier after the Pharoahs turned down a request for a neutral venue due to escalating violence in the north African country.
The qualifier will be played on Tuesday March 26. Alexandria, the Egyptians argued, is 250km from the main centre of violence, Cairo, and the city recently hosted a Caf Champions League match.
Zamalek, one of the most supported teams in Egypt, were roared on by an estimated 5 000 spectators when they thumped Chad’s Gazelle 7-0 in Alexandria on Sunday to all, but seal their place in the African Champions League round of 32.
Zifa first vice-president Ndumiso Gumede said yesterday they had received correspondence from their Egyptian counterparts that the match would go ahead as scheduled in Egypt despite security concerns in that country.
“We had requested that the match be played at a neutral venue because of the situation in Egypt right now, but they wrote to us two weeks ago telling us the match will be played in Alexandria on March 26. They assured us there is peace there,” said Gumede.
Zifa, however, are still hoping to hear from world soccer governing body Fifa on the way forward although it appears highly unlikely that they would be accorded a neutral venue given that Caf has allowed inter-club games to go on in Alexandria.
Violence erupted in Egypt last month after 22 supporters were sentenced to death for causing the death of 74 fans during the Al Masry –Al Ahly clash in 2012.
Egyptian supporters have a well documented history of violence with Zimbabwe having fallen victim before when the Warriors, under the late Reinhard Fabisch in 1993, were attacked at Nasser Stadium leading FIFA to order a replay at a neutral venue in Lyon, France, where the match ended 0-0.
The Warriors, who have just a single point from their first two matches in Group G against Mozambique and Guinea, need an outright victory against the hosts to breathe life into a faltering campaign.
Pagels’ men, who are scheduled to play a North African opposition ahead of the clash with the Pharaohs in a friendly match on March 22, lie third on the log table with one point, five behind leaders Egypt.
Afcon 2015 Seedings
- Pot one: Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Mali, South Africa, Cape Verde, DR Congo, Zambia, Tunisia, Ghana
- Pot two: Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Uganda, Congo, Central African Republic
- Pot three: Ethiopia, Benin, Angola, Niger, Zimbabwe, Equatorial, Mozambique, Malawi, Burundi, Liberia, Sudan
- Pot four: To be determined after the preliminary round.