REIGNING African champions Algeria have set the bar high for the Warriors after thumping Zambia 5-0 at home in their opening match of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers on Thursday night.
The Desert Foxes now lead Group H ahead of the clash between Zimbabwe and Botswana at the National Sports Stadium this evening.
Baghdad Bounedjah, whose second-minute goal won the 2019 final in Cairo, scored twice before Youcef Belaili, El Arbi Soudani and Bounedjah completed the rout in the final 15 minutes against the visiting 2012 champions.
The Algerians extended their unbeaten run to 17 matches since losing away to Benin last October. They play Botswana in Gaborone early next week while Zimbabwe travel to Zambia for the derby against Chipolopolo. The Warriors need a positive start to enhance the chances in the group.
The qualifiers will take a long break and then return in August/September next year when Zimbabwe engage in back-to-back clashes with the high-riding Desert Foxes. The Warriors will then travel to Botswana in October before wrapping up the campaign at home against Chipolopolo the following month. The top two teams at the end of the campaign will get direct qualification to the 2021 AFCON finals to be held in Cameroon.