THE Warriors will know their opponents at this year’s African Nations Championship (Chan) finals to be held in Cameroon when the draw for the tournament is conducted in Yaounde today.
Indomitable Lions legends Stephen Tataw and Salomon Olembe will assist Confederation of African Football (Caf) director of competitions Samson Adamu to conduct the draw at the Palais Polyvalent des Sports de Yaounde at 8pm local time.
Tataw, who is now the Indomitable Lions team manager, was the Cameroon captain at the 1990 World Cup in Italy when the team reached the quarter-finals before a controversial 3-2 loss to England after extra time.
Olembe was a mainstay in the all-conquering Cameroon side midfield between 1997 and 2007 and was part of the team which won two Africa Cup of Nations titles in 2000 and 2002.
Zimbabwe will be part of the 16 teams that will go into the hat this evening after making it to the tournament that is specifically designed for players plying their trade in local leagues.
The tournament will be held between 4 and 25 April with matches taking place in Yaounde, Douala and Limbe.
Having missed the previous edition of the finals held in Morocco in 2018 after falling at the last hurdle against Namibia, the Warriors booked their ticket for a fifth appearance after beating Lesotho 3-1 on aggregate.
Zimbabwe’s last Chan finals appearance came in 2016 in Rwanda where, then under the guidance of Kalisto Pasuwa, the team failed to get past the group stages, finishing bottom of their group which had neighbours Zambia, Uganda and Mali.
Because of their failure to reach the last edition of the competition, Zimbabwe will find themselves in Pot 4 together with Niger, Togo and Tanzania when the draw starts.
Croatian coach Zdravko Logarusic is now in charge of the team after he was unveiled last Thursday and is faced with a difficult task of coming up with a squad for the Chan tournament.
Zimbabwe’s domestic season is currently in pre-season and will only resume a few weeks before the Chan tournament kicks off.
This means Logarusic does not have an ideal time-frame to see players in action and pick a final squad for the tournament.
To make matters worse, the players are unlikely to be match fit to play in such a demanding tournament in which games come after every two days.
“We have to prepare a completely new team for Chan and we have problems. The first one being that there is no running league (it’s off season),” Logarusic said at his unveiling last week.
“We don’t know in which form we are picking players. Not many players will be at the top of their form at the beginning of the season and that means we will be short but we will try talk to the clubs to maybe 8-20 March to put players together. Play friendly games and conduct training together.
“For example, when I went to Sudan, I had two months of preparing and in that time, you can change the mentality, you can change the way of thinking and in turn we will also try and do the job and we will do the job.”
The Warriors were able to qualify for the inaugural Chan finals held in Ivory Coast in 2009 and then in Sudan in 2011.
They also qualified for the 2014 edition in South Africa where they sealed a fourth-place finish under then coach Ian Gorowa.
Pot 1: Cameroon, Morocco, Libya, Zambia
Pot 2: DR Congo, Guinea, Mali, Rwanda
Pot 3: Uganda, Congo, Namibia, Burkina Faso
Pot 4: Zimbabwe, Niger, Togo, Tanzania