ZIMBABWE men’s senior football team, the Warriors, were expectedly drawn in a very difficult group in yesterday’s draw for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, as they will face continental heavyweights Algeria, Tunisia and Senegal in Group B. BY HENRY MHARA
The draw for the tournament, which kicks off on January 14, was held in Libreville, Gabon and the country was represented at the function by team manager, Sharif Mussa.
Warriors coach, Kalisto Pasuwa was calm and unfazed when asked about the tricky draw last night
“I was expecting such a draw. I’m not surprised really. I was prepared for any team, there is no particular group that one would have wanted to avoid. Every group is tricky and has good teams.,” he said.
“We have been given teams that finished top of their groups in the qualifiers and that means they are good. We are the lowest ranked, but we are not going there to add some numbers. I have confidence in our ability.”
Pasuwa said he wanted two friendlies before the finals and hoped Zifa would allow the Warriors to go into camp early.
“I want to have two friendly matches against teams from the North,” he said lamenting that the Warriors had missed friendlies during the past Fifa internationals calendar.
“I want us to play Egypt and Morocco before the start of the competition.
“We need to camp early, and I want the team together by December 22, latest. We have already submitted our plans to Zifa and we hope we will get our wish. Now that the draw is out and we know what we would be up against, we need to unite as a nation and mobilise resources for the team so that we will go and do the country proud.”
Zimbabwe, who would be making their third appearance at the continental showpiece, will begin their campaign with a match against Rihad Mahrez’s Algeria on January 15 at the Stade de Franceville before taking on Sadio Mane’s Senegal at the same venue four days later.
They will conclude the group stages with a match against Tunisia at the Stade L’Ammitse on January 23.
Teams were drawn into four groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing into the quarter finals.
Zimbabwe were in pot 4, the lowest at the draw, with the rankings based on performances at the Afcon final tournaments (2012, 2013, 2015), Afcon qualifiers (2013, 2015, 2017), Fifa World Cup (2014) and Fifa World Cup qualifiers (2014).
Meanwhile, Warriors striker, Knowledge Musona continued with his fine goal-scoring form in the Belgian league, notching in his sixth goal of the campaign for KV Oostende, as they overcame a battling Mechellen 3-2 at the weekend.
Musona was recently named among a number of players, who have allegedly been placing bets on some matches in the Belgian top-flight league.
But the 26-year-old, whose goals helped the Warriors qualify for the 2016 Africa Cup of Nations finals for the first time in 10 years, has refused to let that storm distract him.
He scored in the fourth minute before defender, Bruno Godeu and midfielder, Ibrahim Conte weighed in with a goal each.
The goal saw him stake a claim for the Golden Boot Award, as he is now two goals behind leading goal scorer, Saadi of Kortrijk.
Group A: Gabon, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea Bissau
Group B: Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Zimbabwe
Group C: Ivory Coast, RD Congo, Morocco, Togo
Group D: Ghana, Mali, Egypt, Uganda