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Warriors switch focus to Afcon

The Warriors will be returning to the qualifiers after missing the previous qualification process due to a Fifa ban.

ZIMBABWE will discover their path to the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations  (Afcon) finals next month when the Confederation of African Football conducts the qualification draw in South Africa.

The Warriors will be returning to the qualifiers after missing the previous qualification process due to a Fifa ban.

CAF yesterday announced that Zimbabwe, who are smarting from two humiliating defeats to Lesotho and South Africa in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, are part of the 48 nations that will go into the hat on July 4 to fight for a place in next year’s finals.

Preliminary stage winners Chad, Eswatini, Liberia and South Sudan will join the continent’s 44 highest-ranked nations for the group stage draw that will be held at the SuperSport studios in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The 48 nations will be drawn into 12 groups of four teams each, with the top two teams in each pool qualifying to the finals in Morocco.

The first two games of the qualification series will take place during the Fifa window of September 2 to 10, with two other matches in the October 7  to 15 window and the final two games in the November 11 to 19 window.

“Headlining the confirmed nations for the draw are reigning African champions Cote d’Ivoire joined by Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, DR [Democratic Republic of] Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini and Ethiopia,” CAF said in a statement yesterday.

“Others include Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.”

The 2025 Nations Cup is set to be staged in July and August, although the dates are yet to be confirmed by CAF.

Caf had previously committed to stage its flagship men’s tournament at the end of the European club season, in a June-July slot, but the dates clash with Fifa’s inaugural 32-team Club World Cup.

Earlier this month, CAF secretary-general Veron Mosengo-Omba said that scheduling is “a nightmare” and admitted that the 2025 finals could potentially be played in early 2026.

“We need to make sure that the dates that we will be choosing will be in the interests of the players,” said the Swiss-Congolese, highlighting issues around the workload of the continent’s elite players.

Hosts Ivory Coast won the 2023 Afcon tournament which was held in January and February this year due to fears over excessive heat in the West African summer in the initial slot midway through last year.

The Elephants beat Nigeria 2-1 in the final in Abidjan on February 11.

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