The Herald (Zimbabwe)
Zifa welcome 2019 AFCON draw
ZIFA have described as fair the outcome of the 2019 AFCON draw with the Association’s leadership yesterday indicating that they will immediately start preparations for the 32nd edition once the senior team returns from Gabon.
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa and his deputy Omega Sibanda said the fact that a draw had been conducted for the 2019 tournament meant they needed to also prepare for it in earnest.
“Zimbabwe is now a strong footballing nation very respected on the African continent and our guys will prevail in the 2019 qualifiers,’’ Chiyangwa said.
The ZIFA boss, however, said his executive committee would review the Warriors’ performance in Gabon before they set put in motion their preparations for the start of the 2019 qualifiers.
With some countries also expected to be involved in the 2018 World Cup, African zone qualifiers, CAF have pegged the start of the next Nations Cup qualifiers for June 5-13.
Sibanda said he would press for “continuity’’ in the Warriors, arguing that the majority of the players in the current squad still had age on their side and would play a big role in setting up the platform for qualification for Cameroon in 2019.
“I am happy with the draw and with the experience which we will gain here I know that we will pull through and qualify again for the next Nations Cup.
“DRC are also here and we will assess them. While it is a fair draw I think all the teams in the group are strong enough and have the capacity to qualify and that requires us to work very hard.
“We are also looking at continuity, success and progress so that we achieve more. Most of the players we have at the moment came through from the Undcer-23 squad and that should help us as we look to challenge for the 2019 Nations Cup again,’’ Sibanda said.
The ZIFA vice-president, who is the head of delegation for the tour of duty in Gabon, also declared the Warriors ready for their opening Group B assignment against Algeria tomorrow.
“We are all focussing on the game against Algeria which we must win on Sunday. I am happy that all the issues that might have happened back home are well behind us now.
“The reception in Gabon has also been wonderful for us. It is a very small country and hence Franceville is also small, maybe the size of Gwanda, but we have been well received by the locals here. We even brought our own chef and we are happy,” Sibanda said.
The Warriors will get a feel of the match venue today having trained at the practice pitch that has been designated for that purpose by CAF yesterday. Pasuwa’s men will be seeking to emulate the class of 2004 who edged the Desert Foxes 2-1 at the Nations Cup in Tunisia via goals by Peter Ndlovu and Joel Luphahla.
In 1989 the Algerians first won 3-0 in a World Cup qualifier at home before edging the Warriors 2-1 in the reverse fixture in Harare. After some battling shows by the Warriors in their recent games, there is some optimism by Zimbabweans that Pasuwa’s men could upstage the Desert Foxes on the neutral soil of Franceville tomorrow.