Algeria tie: Warriors face travel headache

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THE Warriors will most likely have to charter a plane to Algiers for next month’s 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group H qualifier against Algeria due to an unavailability of flights. 

Zimbabwe is scheduled to take on the Desert Foxes at the July 5 Stadium on November 12 before the two teams clash again at the National Sports Stadium in Harare four days later.

However, due to the travel complications brought about by the global spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), flights between Harare and Algiers are no longer frequent.

This has left the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) exploring ways to ensure the team travels to and back from Algiers without difficulties.

New Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare told the Daily News that a decision is yet to be made on the matter but Zifa will have to consult the government on the way forward.

“I can tell you that the last fight to Algeria is on the 10th (of November) and the next one is on the 19th so you can see that there are not many flights to Algeria.

“There are no flights at all; they get one flight per week so it’s difficult considering that we are playing on the 12th and our return match is on the 16th.

“During that period, there are no flights at all so it’s something that we and the board are looking at,” Mpandare told the Daily News.

Two weeks ago, Zifa was forced to charter a plane to fly the team to Blantyre to take on Malawi in a friendly international.

Initially, the association had intended that the Warriors to embark on a treacherous 600km road journey but the government intervened and ordered Zifa to make proper arrangements.

Covid-19 has also brought about unprecedented challenges to international travel and Zifa is currently in contact with the Zimbabwe Embassy in Algiers to ensure the Warriors do not meet unexpected disruptions upon their arrival.

“Whenever we go outside Zimbabwe, we engage our embassy staff so that they know we are coming and they can help us with the protocols.

“With this Covid-19 pandemic when you get to certain countries, you get isolated, so those are some of the things I wanted to find from our embassy.

“We are also sending them our protocols so that the Algerian team can get to understand what they need to do when they arrive here; are they going into an isolation hotel or they can just book into any hotel.”

The Warriors need to do well against the Desert Foxes next month since Group H is currently delicately poised.

Algeria lead the pool with six points following their wins over Zambia (5-0) and Botswana (0-1) back in November 2019.

The Warriors are in second place following a goalless home draw against the Zebras before earning a precious 1-2 away win over Chipolopolo.

Botswana are third with a single point while Zambia anchor the group as they are yet to get on the board.

Whichever teams collect the most points in those two matches between the Warriors and the Desert Foxes will seize control of the group.

For next month’s matches, Warriors coach Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic will be hoping to have a full complement of his foreign-based stars.

For the friendly international against the Flames, Loga had to opt for an experimental squad after most of his preferred players pulled out of the trip due to Zifa’s incompetence.

As a result, a handful of Europe-based stars showed up for the match, leaving Loga with no option but to select home-based players and those from Zambia and South Africa, who were not part of his initial roster.

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