By Kevin Mapasure
THE Warriors drew regional rivals South Africa in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying campaign in what is a tough group that also features powerhouse Morocco.
Liberia are the lowest ranked team in Group K, where only two teams will make it to the finals that will be held in Ivory Coast next year in June.
Zimbabwe’s participation in the qualifiers is still up in the air as they are currently suspended by Fifa due to government interference in Zifa affairs.
Caf has given Zimbabwe every chance to resolve its domestic issues as they involved the Warriors in the draw despite the suspension.
Fifa has demanded that the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) reinstates the Felton Kamambo-led board, which was suspended last year.
The Warriors have until two weeks before the qualifiers to get the suspension lifted by Fifa, but their chances of actually taking to the field look slim, with the SRC adamant that the restructuring committee that it has put in place will have to see through its mandate.
Sports minister Kirsty Coventry has not done much to give hope of resolving this issue before the qualifiers start.
On yesterday’s draw, Bafana Bafana legend Lucas Hadebe said Group K would be exciting and he is wary of the threat posed by the Warriors.
“It’s a good group, the teams will have a go at each other. We will have to deal with our neighbours. But they too will be excited about the draw, they will have a go at both Morocco and South Africa,” he said.
The two nations were in the same group in the World Cup qualifiers and Bafana Bafana claimed four points following a nil-all draw in Harare, which was followed by a 1-0 win for South Africa in their own backyard.
The two have met on 17 occasions, with Zimbabwe winning seven, the same as South Africa while three of the matches ended in draws.
Outside Cosafa tournament clashes and friendly matches, the Warriors last won against South Africa in an Afcon qualifier back in 1992 during the famous Reinhard Fabisch-led Dream Team, where they walloped their neighbours 4-1 at the National Sports Stadium.
The head-to-head record is also not encouraging against Morocco, with the two nations having played each other three times, where the Warriors lost twice and managed a share of the spoils once.
Against Liberia, the record is encouraging, where Zimbabwe beat the west African nation twice, lost once and drew once, with all clashes coming in Afcon qualifiers.
The qualifiers could be the more complicated for Zimbabwe as they cannot play their home matches in their own stadia, which has been condemned by Caf.
If Zimbabwe were to play in the qualifiers, they will have to play home matches away from home, which will be a big blow especially against rivals South Africa.
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