SIMILAR to countless previous campaigns, Zimbabwe will plunge into battle for the Qatar World Cup 2022 qualifiers without playing a single friendly match as preparations remain a major challenge for the senior men’s national team.
The Warriors are scheduled to play South Africa and Ethiopia, within a few days, in the first week of September as the Qatar World Cup 2022 qualifiers get underway across the globe.
According to the FIFA international match calendar, the two matches are scheduled to take place between August 30 and September 7.
The Warriors are expected to host Bafana Bafana at the National Sports Stadium in Harare before travelling to Ethiopia for the second Group G match, a few days later.
Most of the foreign-based players are winding club business, before the FIFA window on the weekend of August 28.
National team manager Wellington Mpandare said there was no time for any friendly match and Covid-19 travel restrictions have worsened the situation.
“There is no chance for friendly matches because there is no time and with the Covid-19 situation, it is even worse. We are happy because most of our players are active.
“Most of them are fresh since they are coming from the off-season. We are playing these games at the right time when players would have played few games at club level,” said Mpandare.
While Croatian Zdravko Logarusic will lead his charges against South Africa and Ethiopia without any friendly matches, a new-look Bafana Bafana rallied from behind to claim a 3-2 win over Uganda at Orlando Stadium in June in a friendly match that was meant to give their new coach, Hugo Broos an appreciation of the arsenal at his disposal.
As usual, the Warriors were, once again, watching from the sidelines as their 2022 World Cup qualifiers opponents regrouped, to fine-tune their teams.
Mpandare said they have not recorded any injuries apart from Prince Dube and Terrence Dzukamanja.
“We have no injury worries with Prince Dube on a three-week recovery period and Terrence Dzukamanja coming to training after an injury. Apart from these two, we have not heard of any injured player on the list of those we intend to field,” said Mpandare.
Zimbabwe’s bid to qualify for their maiden FIFA World Cup will face a serious test after the Warriors were handed a tough draw for the 2022 World Cup group phase qualifiers where they were drawn in Group G alongside neighbours, South Africa, West African giants, Ghana and Ethiopia.
Zimbabwe qualified for the group phase round of the qualifiers after beating Somalia 3-2 on aggregate in the first round of the qualifiers.
The winners of the 10 groups progress to the third and final round to be drawn into five home and away ties.
Zimbabwe and Ethiopia are the only teams in the group who have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup.
Three-time participants, South Africa failed to qualify for the last two editions of the World Cup finals, with their last appearance dating back to 2010 when they were hosts of the global football show piece.
Ghana, Africa’s joint-best performers at the World Cup with a quarter-final appearance at South Africa 2010, have qualified for the tournament on three occasions.
Ghana are looking to make a return to the global show-piece since their last appearance at Brazil 2014 where they were eliminated in the group stage.