Zifa needs to charter two planes for Afcon qualifier

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Nigel Matongorere 

SPORTS EDITOR

matongoreren@dailynews.co.zw

THE Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) faces a costly prospect of hiring two planes to ensure the Warriors are able to fulfil next month’s 2022 Afcon Group H qualifier away to Algeria.

Initially, these two matches against the Desert Foxes were supposed to have been held in March but had to be called off due to the global outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19).

The Warriors first travel to Algiers for the first match at the July 5 Stadium on November 12 while the return match is set for the National Sports Stadium in Harare on November 16.

Due to the travel restrictions brought about by Covid-19, flights between Harare and Algiers are very limited which has presented the huge logistical problem for Zifa.

The quick turnaround between the two matches which is only four days and the fact that some players for the matches will come from Europe and others from the rest of the continent have also complicated matters for the association.

“The Covid-19 situation has changed our plans, but we will try to bring some players from Europe and Africa to Algeria in a jet. This is what we are doing now and this is our main goal. We will try to organise charter flights from Europe. 

“All the players in Europe should come from one and the same airport and we will make sure they come on a charter flight.

“And the rest of the players should come straight from Zimbabwe. This is what we are trying to organise now,” Warriors coach Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic revealed in an interview aired on Radio Algeria International (RAI) at the weekend.

This will prove to be a costly affair for Zifa due to the high prices of hiring private jets for such long-haul flights.

Earlier this month, Zifa is estimated to have spent US$90 000 is chartering a plane for the Warriors to travel to Blantyre for a friendly international against Malawi.

With Zifa exploring chartering two different flights for the game in Algiers the bill is likely to double that of the Malawi trip.

Meanwhile, Loga is fully aware that his side is going to face the best team on the continent which features the likes of Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, West Ham Said Benrahma, AC Milan’s Ismael Bennacer and Sofiane Feghouli of Galatasaray.

The Desert Foxes are also the reigning African champions after they beat Senegal 1-0 in the 2019 Afcon final in Egypt.

With Algeria sitting top of the pool with six points and the Warriors in second place with four points, next month’s matches hold a huge significance in determining the outcome of the group.        

The other two teams in Group H are Botswana, who are third with a single point, while Zambia are fourth as they are yet to get off the mark. 

“First of all, we need to know one thing; Algeria is the best team in Africa. Algeria has one of the best squads on the continent, and they have one of the best coaches. And we have to respect and congratulate them on that.

“I’m not talking about the players, because the Algerian team is not made up of just one or two players. 

“The Desert Foxes are above all a team and we have to play against a team. It is very hard and very difficult to play against such a well-organised team.

“I’m not talking about the big names in the Algerian team, but as a team, the Algerian national team is very strong,” the Croat said.

Despite taking on the aristocrats of African football, the Croat is hopeful the Warriors will put on a good showing in those two matches.

“We always have to be optimistic; all coaches have to be optimistic, but it’s a real challenge, but we are going to give the best of ourselves. 

“However, we remain realistic, we have to admit that Algeria is the best team in Africa at the moment and it is not easy to say that we are going to beat the best team in Africa or that we are going to do anything, but the objective is to give the best of ourselves and see how far we will go knowing that we will face the best team in Africa,” Loga said.   

During this month’s international break, the Desert Foxes beat Nigeria 1-0 and drew 2-2 against Mexico in friendly matches held in Austria and Netherlands respectively.

“Algeria showed a good physical condition in each match and I really appreciate how the team played. And in every game, Algeria proved once again that they are the best team in Africa,” Loga said of those matches. 

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