THE Warriors are set to play neighbours Zambia and Uganda as part of their preparations for this year’s African Nations Championship (Chan) finals set for Cameroon later this year, the Daily News can report.
Zimbabwe were placed in a tough Group A alongside West African opponents in hosts Cameroon, Mali and Burkina Faso when the draw for the tournament reserved for only locally-based players was held in Yaounde on Monday evening.
In order to make any impact at the competition, the Warriors, who take on the hosts in the opening game on April 4, would need proper preparations ahead of the tournament.
Newly-appointed Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic’s life has also been complicated because the domestic league is currently on off-season.
By the time the Chan finals kick-off in April, the Castle Lager Premiership would probably be in its infancy meaning that most players will not be match fit for tournament football.
Just coming up with a squad for the Chan finals will be a headache for Logarusic as all the eligible players last played competitive football last December.
The Croatian and his technical team have however, been presented with a perfect opportunity to fine tune their charges ahead of the finals after Uganda proposed a three-team tournament that will include Warriors and Zambia.
In the past, poor preparations have negatively affected most national team performances ahead of big tournaments.
However, in this case, the mini-tournament with the Cranes and Chipolopolo will give the Warriors a good platform to get in shape before the clash with the Indomitable Lions.
Robert Moutsinga, who is the director of Eagle Sport Development and Management, and was hired by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) to represent the country at the Chan draw in Cameroon on Monday, said the proposed dates for the friendly matches are between March 18 and 20 in Kampala.
“As you are aware, I’m doing consultancy for the Zimbabwean FA. I’m working hard for Zifa to make sure everything goes according to plan,” Moutsinga told the Daily News from Cameroon yesterday.
“Uganda national team wants us to play a (friendly) tournament that includes their team the Cranes, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“It’s as a good as a done deal as it affords all the teams a chance to prepare. What is left now is confirmation by all parties.”
Eagle Sport Development is a professional company that specialises in sports development, teams’ logistics (training grounds, hotels, liaison officers, friendly matches) and other football consulting services and Moutsinga has used his time in Cameroon preparing ground work for the Warriors.
Moutsinga said the Warriors will be based in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde and will be staying at a Four-Star Hotel LA Falaise and yesterday he toured the facilities including the match venue and the training grounds which will be used by the Warriors.
Having missed the previous edition of the Chan tournament held in Morocco after failing 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, they failed to get past the group stages, finishing bottom of their group which had neighbours Zambia, Uganda and Mali.
The Warriors played at 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.