By Grace Chingoma
THE Warriors are likely to miss an opportunity to prepare for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers scheduled for next month after they failed to secure a friendly during this week’s FIFA international dates.
Zimbabwe are set to play Zambia and Botswana next month as they begin the long journey in the continental qualifiers.
Many of the African teams are taking advantage of the FIFA calendar to fine-tune their squads ahead of the AFCON assignments.
South Africa will face Mali in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Port Elizabeth on Sunday while Cote d’Ivoire date Democratic Republic of Congo in France.
Egypt, who played the Warriors in the opening match at this year’s AFCON finals, had expressed interest to play against Zimbabwe again.
The Pharaohs, however, ended up settling for neighbours Botswana.
Yesterday, ZIFA were still racing against time to secure an opponent to play during this week’s FIFA break.
Zimbabwe are looking to rebuild following the disappointment at this year’s AFCON finals in Egypt which ended with coach Sunday Chidzambwa leaving his post.
The FIFA break could have provided the interim Warriors gaffer Joey Antipas, more time to work with his troops and trying out some combinations.
Yesterday, ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, said they will have a clearer picture by today.
“We are talking to some countries so, by tomorrow, we should be in a better position to comment,” said Gwesela.
But it is highly unlikely the national team will have a fixture considering they should have already secured the release of players two weeks before the FIFA dates as well as airfares.
The Warriors played against Somalia early last month in a World Cup qualifier which they won 3-2 to qualify for the group stages of the global tournament.
However, the team needed a last-gasp winner from Khama Billiat to secure their place in the group stages.
An international friendly this weekend would also have afforded Antipas the chance to watch Marvelous Nakamba and Tino Kadewere in action.
The duo have been doing well for their clubs in Europe. The Warriors, who are in Group H with AFCON holders Algeria, Zambia and Botswana, will first host the Zebras on November 11 before they make a short trip to Lusaka to play Zambia.
The group qualifiers will then resume next year.