BY HENRY MHARA/TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
ZIMBABWE’S poor performance at the Africa Cup of Nations continue to haunt the team after they moved down the Fifa rankings released yesterday, which has dire consequences on their qualification for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
The Warriors exited the Afcon in the group stages after a chaotic campaign that was characterised by a player mutiny over their appearance fees and allowances.
They only managed one point and one goal from the finals which they got from the draw against Uganda, while losing to Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As a result, they have moved two places down the Fifa rankings to number 112 in the world. In the Caf rankings, they slipped down to number 27 and were overtaken by the Central Africa Republic.
As a consequence, Zimbabwe will now play in a preliminary round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, whose draw will be conducted tomorrow in Cairo, Egypt.
The potentially tricky preliminary tie will be played in September before the group stages of the World Cup qualifiers.
Round one of the qualifiers sees the lowest ranked 28 Caf member associations play knockout matches‚ with the 14 winners advancing to round two.
That will be played as a group phase between March 2020 and October 2021‚ where the 14 winners of round one join the 26 other Caf nations to form 10 groups of
four member associations‚ with the 10 group winners advancing to round three.
That final round is a straight knockout between the 10 sides to see which five teams will appear in Qatar.
Had Zimbabwe done well at the Afcon finals‚ then they would have been one of the top seeds for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier draw‚ theoretically earning a
smoother path to Qatar.
Zimbabwe were expelled from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers for failing to pay former coach Jose Claudinei Georgini, also known as Valinhos.
The Warriors have never qualified for the World Cup before.
Meanwhile, Warriors interim soccer team coach Rahman Gumbo (pictured) wielded the axe on Caps United forward Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo due to fitness concerns as
he picked his final 18 member squad for the 2020 African Nations Championships (Chan) qualifier away to Mauritius on Sunday.
Chitiyo’s inclusion in the squad had also raised eyebrows considering that he has not fully recovered from the injury sustained in a car accident and has not
been playing at full throttle at his club.
His club mate midfielder Joel Ngodzo who had been overlooked when the squad was initially announced before being called up at the last minute following a
public outcry, was also dropped because he does not have a passport.
The former Highlanders man has been trying unsuccessfully to renew his passport amid reports of shortage of material to process passports in the country.
Another Caps United midfielder Blessing Sarupinda also fell by the way side as Gumbo, elevated to the hot seat following the sudden resignation of head coach
Sunday Chidzambga on Wednesday, selected the men who will do duty in Mauritius.
Also left out is Ngezi Platinum left back Qadr Amin who has also not been playing regularly at club level.
Chicken Inn goalkeeper Bernard Donovan was also another casualty as Gumbo preferred the duo of Highlanders’ Ariel Sibanda and Chapungu shot stopper Talbert
However, Dynamos new signing Evans Katema is among those that boarded the plane to Mauritius yesterday morning and is set to battle it out with Premier Soccer
League leading top goal scorer Clive Augusto and Prince Dube to start in attack.
Manica Diamonds defender Partson Jaure, one of the most experienced member of the squad is set to be given the arm band to lead the team as Zimbabwe bids to
make it to the CHAN finals next year.
The return leg has been set for Barbourfields in a week’s time.
The Chan tournament is designed exclusively for home-based players.
Zimbabwe failed to qualify to the last edition of the Chan finals after they were knocked out by Namibia.
Warriors travelling squad
Goalkeepers: Talbert Shumba (Chapungu), Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders)
Defenders: Ian Nekati (ZPC Kariba), Xolani Ndlovu (Chicken Inn), Partson Jaure (Manica Diamonds), Peter Muduwa (Highlanders), Byron Madzokere (Yadah Stars)
Midfielders: Phenias Bhamusi (Caps United), Brian Chikwenya (Triangle), Richard Hachiro (Herentals), Nqobizitha Masuku (Highlanders), Raĺph Kawondera
(Triangle), Never Tigere (FC Platinum), Malvin Gaki (Chicken Inn), Leeroy Mavunga (Yadah Stars)
Strikers: Clive Augusto (Chicken Inn), Evans Katema (Dynamos), Prince Dube (Highlanders)