THE Warriors will take part in a four-nation tournament in Zambia at the end of this month, an opportunity they will use to prepare for their next Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group G qualifier later this month.
BY HENRY MHARA
Earlier reports had suggested that Zimbabwe will play South Africa in Harare, but Zifa yesterday confirmed the team had been invited to the tourney, which would also include the hosts, South Africa and Angola.
Dates for the tournament have not yet been confirmed, but it is likely that it would be played during the Fifa internationals week from March 19 – 27.
“We have been invited and the team will participate,” Zifa communications manager, Xolisani Gwesela said.
“We wait for the Zambian Football Association (the organisers) to confirm the dates. The squad and the travelling arrangements will be announced in due course.”
It’s not clear if Zifa will give Warriors coach, Sunday Chidzambga the resources to invite foreign-based players for the tournament.
This will be the first time the veteran coach would be taking charge of the team since his appointment as the substantive gaffer last year.
Before him, the team was under caretaker coach, Wilson Mutekede, who is also the Zifa technical director, who led the team in two friendly matches against Lesotho and Namibia, where Zimbabwe lost both games.
The team has not been active since.
Chidzambga was handed a one year deal as a reward for guiding Zimbabwe to Cosafa Cup glory in July last year, when he was the caretaker coach, and his mandate this time around is to qualify the Warriors from the 2019 Afcon finals to be held in Cameroon.
Zimbabwe leads Group G after beating Liberia 3-0 at the National Sports Stadium last year in an Afcon qualifying opener.
Caretaker coach, Norman Mapeza, led the Warriors to the comprehensive win, which put the team in a good position to qualify to their second successive Afcon finals after participating at last year’s finals in Gabon where they didn’t fare well.
The Warriors’ next Afcon qualifier is an away trip to Congo-Brazzaville in September, where a win would brighten their chances further.
The group also has the Democratic Republic of Congo, who on paper, appear the favourite to win the group, although Zimbabwe stand a good chance.
Besides preparing the team for the Afcon qualifiers, the tournament presents Zimbabwe with an opportunity to assert their dominance in the region having conquered in the Cosafa Cup tournament over Zambia in the final of the tournament on July 9 in South Africa.
This will be the first time Zimbabwe will be facing Angola since their meeting in the final round of the 2013 Afcon qualifiers, where the Warriors won 3-1 at Rufaro Stadium in the first leg, before crumbling in the opening six minutes of the second leg in Luanda, conceding two goals to miss out on the ticket to the