THE Warriors face a tight fixture programme which could result in the team having just two full training days before their Group L 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Swaziland in Mbabane on March 25. BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
The Warriors, who are bidding for a place at the biennial soccer tournament to be held in Gabon, face off with Swaziland in back-to-back clashes during the Easter holiday. Zimbabwe and Swaziland share top spot in Group L on four points from two matches. The group also contains West African giant Guinea and Malawi.
And as the Warriors resume their campaign for a seat at the Afcon table, they first travel to Mbabane for a clash on Good Friday – March 25 – before hosting Sihlangu at the National Sports Stadium on Easter Monday (March 28).
But it is their schedule which appears hectic as they will not have much time for training ahead of the back-to-back clashes with Swaziland.
The Warriors are set to go into camp on March 21, the same day they are expected to start training, but past experience has proved this to be almost impossible considering most of the players are likely to be drawn from South Africa and Europe and first have to play for their clubs on Saturday and Sunday before they are allowed to leave.
The squad will have March 22 for training before they travel to Swaziland the following day and have March 24 for training before the match on the 27th.
According to Zifa’s programme, the team will fly back home soon after the match to prepare for the reverse fixture two days later.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said they would make arrangements to ensure that the players get their air tickets on time for them to get into camp earlier.
“We are going to put arrangements in place to ensure that players playing outside the country, who constitute the bulk of the national team, will get their air tickets on time,” Gwesela said.
Zifa benefactor Wicknell Chivayo has promised to provide air tickets for the Warriors playing their club football outside the country.
Some of the players that are likely to be called from Europe include Costa Nhamoinesu, based in the Czech Republic, Knowledge Musona in Belgium, Mathew Rusike in Sweden, Tendai Darikwa in England and possibly Marvelous Nakamba plying his trade in the Netherlands.
The bulk of the players likely to make the squad are based in South Africa while Nyasha Mushekwi, who is in China, may make the list.
The Warriors will then host the Flames of Malawi in June before rounding off their Afcon campaign with a long trip to Conakry, Guinea, in September.