WHILE Zimbabwe are jostling to put their house in order, Warriors rivals for the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, South Africa have lined up four international friendly matches before the qualifiers which start in November.
Bafana Bafana are leaving no stone unturned in their preparations for the Group C matches, where they will play Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Benin, Rwanda and Lesotho.
Caf are yet to release the fixtures, but the first two round of matches will be played during the November 13 to 21 international break.
Before that, there are two windows for international friendlies, with the first opening on September 4 to close on the 12th.
In October, there is another window between the 9th and the 17th.
Zifa are jostling to get a coach in place for the senior national team after inviting applications.
They are hoping to have a coach in place before the end of the month, but yesterday, Zifa normalisation committee chairperson Lincoln Mutasa said they had an invitation to play Botswana at the end of September.
“Our plans are to definitely get friendly matches for the Warriors during the international breaks, but what is more pressing is to identify the suitable coaches who will be assembling the teams,” he said.
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“We have agreed to play one of our regional teams Botswana, who will be celebrating their Independence at the end of September. We are hoping to identify the coach in the next week or two. We have closed for the applications and the next step is to come up with a technical team to help us identify the coaches.
“Once that is done, we will move with speed. There are a number of countries that have invited us for friendly games but we cannot confirm those games before we have the coach to select the team.”
With that match coming outside the Fifa windows, it means that only the locally-based players will be available to the coaches, which might not be that helpful.
He said they will try to organise another friendly once they have a coach in place.
One of their main rivals, South Africa, are already streets ahead in terms of planning for the qualifiers.
South African Football Association new chief executive officer Lydia Monyepao has announced Bafana Bafana’s itinerary, saying the friendly matches are to help national team coach Hugo Broos prepare for the World Cup qualifiers and the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals to be hosted by Ivory Coast next year, for which Bafana Bafana have already qualified.
“These matches are in support of Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos as he continues with his preparation for the Afcon in the beginning of next year, and the start of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers,” Monyepao told the South African media.
Bafana Bafana will clash with Namibia on September 9 and the Democratic Republic of Congo three days later, with both matches being played in South Africa.
On October 13, they will take on Eswatini at home before travelling to play the Afcon host Ivory Coast on October 17.
The Warriors and Bafana Bafana were in the same group of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers where the latter won home and away.
Zimbabwe have been out of international football since February last year after Zifa was suspended by Fifa over government interference, but that embargo was lifted early last month.
A normalisation committee to restore normalcy in football was appointed.
The other members are former Highlanders player Sikhumbuzo Ndebele, ex-Mighty Warriors player and coach Rosemary Mugadza and lawyer Nyasha Samanyandwe as well as chartered accountant Cynthia Malaba.
After inviting applications, Ndebele last week said the date for the applications had been closed and a committee had been tasked to conduct interviews after which recommendations will be made to the committee.
Former Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs coach Kostadin Papic and ex-Dynamos coach Herbert Maruwa are some of the coaches vying for the Warriors post.