ZIMBABWE will join 15 other nations in this afternoon’s 2014 African Nations Championships (finals) draw in Cairo, Egypt hoping, at least, to avoid the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
BY WELLINGTON TONI
The Warriors are seeded in Group D while Nigeria are making their first appearance in the competition and are not seeded.
South Africa (hosts), Burkina Faso, Burundi, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are the teams that made it through the rigorous qualification exercise.
“All the 15 qualified teams with the exception of hosts South Africa, will be ranked based on their performances during the last two editions of the Chan competition in 2009 (Ivory Coast) and 2011 (Sudan),” read a statement on the Confederation of African Football (Caf) website yesterday.
The tournament is set to kick-off on January 11 2014 and run until February 1 2014. Games will be staged at the Cape Town Stadium, Athlone Stadium, Free State Stadium and Peter Mokaba Stadium.
The Warriors qualified for the third successive tournament after beating Zambia 1-0 on aggregate in the final qualifier last month via a Charles Sibanda 63rd minute strike after the two teams had drawn 0-0 in the first leg at Rufaro.
The Warriors previously qualified for the inaugural tournament in Ivory Coast in 2009 under Sunday Chidzambwa before the 2011 edition under Madinda Ndlovu in Sudan and on both occasions failed to make the knockout stage.
The seeding means the Warriors cannot play any of the other seeds, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana, but can draw African champions Nigeria.
The tournament is for the development of players playing their trade in domestic leagues only, but Zifa is mindful that a lot of players could be on the move in the January international transfer window.
The Warriors have already lost Tendai Ndoro to Mpumalanga Black Aces of South Africa while the likes of Nelson Maziwisa, Masimba Mambare and Patson Jaure are still being courted by foreign clubs.
New coach Ian Gorowa will be encouraged by the competitiveness of the local Castle Lager Premier Soccer League where even the likes of unfashionable Harare City are in the race for the league title fighting giants Dynamos, Highlanders, Caps United and FC Platinum.
Mvuzo Mbebe, the chief executive of the Local Organising Committee, (LOC) who was also the head of the successful 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals, has already stated his country’s readiness to make the tournament a success.
“We are not going to let the success of Orange AFCON 2013 get into our heads and we are not taking anything for granted. We are applying the same formula we used during AFCON as well as the lessons learnt to make sure that Orange Chan 2014 delivers in accordance with our objectives as well as CAF expectations.
“We are still going to return to the host cities for another round of visits as the LOC, at the end of August and again in November, together with Caf. This is how serious we take this competition. We also share the same sentiments expressed by the Caf vice-president (Suketu Patel) and deputy secretary general (Essam Ahmed) and we are pleased with what we have seen so far,” Mbebe said in July.
“The strong determination and tenacity displayed during the gruelling qualifying stages of the tournament guarantees us that we will without a doubt experience a mouth-watering and historical Chan 2014,” LOC chairperson Mwelo Nonkonyane said in a statement to congratulate the teams that had qualified.
“We also want to give special congratulations to Mauritania who, for the first time in their history, have qualified for a continental cup competition.”
(A1) South Africa, (B1) Democratic Republic of Congo, (C1) Ghana, (D1) Zimbabwe
Pot 2: Gabon, Mali, Libya, Uganda
Pot 3: Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Burundi
Pot 4: Morocco, Mozambique, Mauritania, Congo BR