WARRIORS gaffer, Zdravko Logarusic, believes the national team is capable of going past the group stage of the 2021 Total Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) tournament only if the players forget about challenges faced during preparation and focus on the job at hand.
The 2020 CHAN tournament will be played from tomorrow (Saturday) to February 7, with hosts Cameroon opening their CHAN 2020 campaign against Zimbabwe.
The 2014 semi finalists, who have missed a single CHAN tournament finals appearance in 2018, left the country on Wednesday afternoon and will go via Ethiopia to Cameroon.
“We are travelling to Cameroon via Ethiopia. We are satisfied with our preparations and all the Covid-19 tests were done. We are in good shape to challenge for honours,” said Warriors’ team manager, Welly Mpandare in a telephone interview just before their departure on Wednesday.
Apart from the usual confusion that normally affects Warriors’ training camps ahead of crucial assignment, the Covid-19 pandemic presented another headache for the national team in the run-up to this CHAN tournament.
While the Brave Warriors of Namibia, another Southern African nation in this year’s CHAN finals were camped in their coastal town of Walvis Bay since last month in preparation for the tournament, Zimbabwe was engaging local Premiership teams in attempt to select the final squad.
Namibia squad started training on December 8, but like Zimbabwe, an outbreak of Covid-19 in the camp temporarily halted their preparations.
In a separate telephone interview, Loga, said: “We were unlucky that we have not been playing football since early last year and that meant I had to assemble a team to play against Premiership teams so that I can select the final list. On top of that, we had to deal with a Covid-19 challenge in camp.
“All this will obviously have a bearing on how we will perform as a team.
“However, the national team is capable of going past the group stage of the CHAN tournament only if the players forget about challenges faced during preparation and focus on the job at hand.”
Zimbabwe’s (Saturday) opponent, the Indomitable Lions, are taking part in the CHAN tournament for the fourth time and are looking at improving their best performances that saw them reach the quarter finals on two occasions, Sudan 2011 and Rwanda 2016.
The other teams to be drawn in Group A are Burkina Faso, playing in the tournament for the third time and Mali who lost the 2016 final to DR Congo.
Defending champions, Morocco were seeded in Pool C and will square out with debutants Togo in their opening match.
Togo qualified for their first ever CHAN after beating 2018 finalists, Nigeria in the final qualification round.
They will also have Eastern Africa representatives Uganda who have qualified for every edition as well as another CECAFA region team, Rwanda.
In Group D, Zambia, Guinea, Namibia and Tanzania will square out.
The tournament’s most successful team DR Congo who have won the tournament two times will headline Pool B where they compete against neighbours Congo Brazzaville, 2014 champions Libya and Niger.
Total CHAN 2020 Final Groups
Group A: Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe
Group B: Libya, DR Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Niger
Group C: Morocco, Rwanda, Uganda, Togo
Group D: Zambia, Guinea, Namibia, Tanzania