Ray Bande Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE senior men’s national football team was drawn against neighbours South Africa, Ghana and Ethiopia for the 2022 Qatar World Cup and analysts believe the Warriors could not have asked for anything better. The draw brought together 40 teams from across the continent, placed in 10 groups of four for the second round of the continent’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
The seeding was based on the latest FIFA rankings.
The Warriors are one of the 14 teams that came through the first round. The Warriors made it to the group stages with difficulty as they needed to summon all their energies to brush aside a tough challenge from minnows Somalia.
Only the group winners will advance to the final round of qualifying, where the 10 group winners will be drawn into five two-legged affairs to determine the five sides that will compete in Qatar.
Triangle gaffer Taurai Mangwiro said: “The draw looks fair to me. If the team can be given ample time to prepare and all the necessary stuff important decisions need to be made in time. Best wishes to our beloved Warriors.”
Mutare football administrators Benjamin Chindima said: “I believe it is a fair group with the type of players at our disposal together with those abroad I believe we can make it to the knockout stages where anything is possible. Best wishes to the Warriors.”
Staunch Chelsea fan Paul Sigauke said: “It is a fair draw. It could have been worse. At least, we have avoided the much fancied North Africans such as Tunisia, Egypt or Morocco.
Owen Sango, the Mutare Premiership outfit Manica Diamonds administrator, who is also Zifa Manicaland vice chairman, said: “It is not an easy draw though we are not pushovers. We need to prepare adequately for those matches. Looking at those teams, they have not been playing well of late, South Africa was struggling, Ghana the same. We have chances to beat them.
“Everyone has to rally behind our team and we can do it, but it is not going to be an easy road. They do have advantage over us as they know what it takes to be at the world’s most prestigious tournament. They have been there before and have seen it all.”
However, many African countries have improved on the pitch because they have been tapping into the Diaspora to get their best talents scattered across the globe to play for their mother countries.
Countries like Madagascar, Cape Verde and Senegal have surprised all and sundry in the last few years after successfully convincing their players born and bred in Europe.
Zimbabwe have been trying to take the same route by pursuing the “British Brigade” but their efforts so far have yielded little success. The Warriors managed to get Nottingham Forest defender Tendayi Darikwa, Alec Mudimu, Cliff Moyo and Admiral Muskwe.
The other players like Macauley Bonne of Charlton Athletic, German-based Jonah Fabisch and Swansea teenage sensation Tivonge Rushesha have also managed to get new Zimbabwean passports which make them available for the Warriors during the World Cup campaign.
Zimbabwe need to be at their best as only the top teams in each group will make it to the final qualifying round.
This third round of the qualifiers will see the 10 group winners being paired against each other for home-and-away ties.
The five winners of each tie will advance to the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals to be held in Qatar.
Group A: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Djibouti,
Group B: Tunisia, Zambia, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea,
Group C: Nigeria, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Liberia
Group D: Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Malawi
Group E: Mali, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda
Group F: Egypt, Gabon, Libya, Angola
Group G: Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia
Group H: Senegal, Congo, Namibia, Togo
Group I: Morocco, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan
Group J: DR Congo , Benin , Madagascar, Tanzania