The Zifa normalisation committee (NC) will need to quickly put its house in order ahead of a packed fixture scheduled for the Warriors in the second half of the year after the team’s dismal performance in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and South Africa recently.

The Warriors are under interim coach Jairos Tapera after the NC failed to appoint a substantive coach despite beginning the process back in April.

Zifa eventually settled for an interim coach, Tapera.

Tapera became the third coach  to be appointed by the NC the lifting of the country’s suspension in July last year.

And his mandate was to guide the Warriors in the World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and South Africa.

The Warriors lost both matches; a shock 2-0 defeat to Lesotho before succumbing 3-1 to South Africa to anchor the Group C standings with two points after four matches.

Tapera will also take the team to the Cosafa championships which will run from June 26 to July 7 in South Africa.

Zimbabwe were drawn in Group B alongside bitter rivals Zambia and the Comoros while the fourth team is yet to be announced after Malawi pulled out of the competition.

The country will certainly need a substantive coach with the 2025 Afcon qualifiers set to kick off off in September while the World Cup qualifiers return in October.

Caf announced last week that the Afcon draw is scheduled for July 4 with 48 African countries including Zimbabwe going into the pot in Johannesburg.

“The journey to the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 will resume with the draw for the qualifiers on Thursday, 04 July 2024, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The draw will be conducted at SuperSport studios in South Africa at 14:30 local time (15:30 Cairo time, 12:30 GMT),” Caf said in a statement.

“The qualifiers are scheduled to kick-off in September 2024 to determine the first 24 nations that will compete for Africa’s biggest event, the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco in 2025.

“Fresh from the thrills and successes of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 where the host nation defied all odds to claim their third title, a line-up of intriguing matches is expected for the journey to the 35th edition of the showpiece continental sporting event,” CAF said.

Zimbabwe missed the previous Afcon competition due to a Fifa suspension which saw the country lose close to 18 months of international football action.

The NC has a task to spearhead the country’s rebuilding which has not quite taken off in terms of the Warriors' results after two points out of a possible 12 in the World Cup qualifiers.

In spite of the setback NC chairman Lincoln Mutasa remains optimistic that the country will qualify for the World Cup judging by his utterances after the Warriors’ damaging defeat to Lesotho in Johannesburg over a week ago.

“The only disappointment that we have is that yesterday’s result didn’t go as we really wanted but this is a marathon. That was the third game out of 10 so we still have seven (now six) more games to go and we believe the bonding that we had yesterday is really the beginning of good things,” Mutasa said during a Warriors' luncheon hosted at the Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria by Ambassador David Hamadziripi last Saturday.

“We used to have what they call the Dream Team and they did very well in the 1990s. I believe this team that we are seeing here is the real deal and I believe they will get us to go to the World Cup.

“Don’t worry about yesterday’s result , but we are going to try our best to make sure that at the end of the rounds we are sitting well on top and we qualify.”

One hopes that the NC will speed up the selection of a substantive coach in order to adequately prepare for the busy fixture list towards the end of the year.