Zifa hindering Warriors ahead of Algeria battle
CLEARLY, the Warriors’ toughest opponent when the 2020 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers resume in November is the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).
The Warriors face reigning African champions Algeria in mouth-watering two matches set to take place between November 9 and 17. The two qualifiers should have taken place last March but the Confederation of African Football (Caf) had to postpone all matches on the continent due to coronavirus (Covid-19).
But after the long lay-off due to Covid-19, international football is coming back on the continent in November and in order for teams to prepare, Caf set the week of October 5-13 as a free window for friendly matches.
Zifa however, seems to be the Warriors’ worst enemy due to the way the association is handling the preparations.
Earlier this month, the Federation of Kenya Football (FKF) wrote to Zifa inviting the Warriors to play a friendly international against
the Harambee Stars.
Playing against the East African side would have been a good workout for coach Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic and his men before going into battle against the Desert Foxes in November.
The Harambee Stars have qualified for the Afcon finals on six previous occasions and at the last edition in Egypt 2019, they failed to progress past the group stages.
But surprisingly Zifa sat on the request until FKF were forced to look for an alternative opponent for Harambee Stars before settling for Zambia’s Chipolopolo.
After spurning the FKF proposal, Zifa went onto secure a friendly international for the Warriors against the Flames of Malawi.
No disrespect to the Flames, but they are not the ideal opponents the Warriors needed to take on as they prepare for two monumental clashes against the Desert Foxes.
The Flames are still novices when it comes to continental football as they are yet to qualify for the Afcon finals. The Warriors sit on a lowly position of 111 on the Fifa World Rankings and the Flames are a further 12 rungs down the ladder in 123rd place.
While the Warriors will be taking on the Flames next month, Algeria on the other hand have secured a friendly international against African powerhouses Nigeria.
The Desert Foxes announced yesterday that they will take on the SuperEagles on October 9 at the Jacques Lemans Arena Stadium in Sankt Veit an der Glan, Austria.
“We have permission from our government to travel from Algeria to Austria and our country has reopened international flights,”
Federation Algerian Football secretary-general Mohamed Saad wrote to the Nigerian Football Federation.
“We also would like to confirm that Fifa match agent Me Jairo Pachon is authorised to carry on all the required work and planning in Austria in order to stage this event.”
This will be the fourth meeting between Algeria and Super Eagles in the past three years.
A brace from Inter Milan wing-back Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel propelled Nigeria to a 3-1 win over the Desert Foxes in the third round first leg of the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
Although the second leg ended 1-1 at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui, Constantine, Fifa awarded the game to Algeria, while the NFF was fined for fielding suspended defender Abdullahi Shehu.
The most recent meeting between the two sides saw the Desert Foxes emerge victorious 2-1 en route to winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt thanks to an own goal by William Troost-Ekong and Riyad Mahrez’s goal while Odion Ighalo’s strike was rendered a meren consolation.