Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THERE appears to be some light for the Warriors ahead of the resumption of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, after ZIFA received an invitation to play Kenya’s Harambee Stars during the FIFA window next month.
The two countries, which find themselves in similar circumstances where football remains banned at home because of the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, are hoping to utilise the October 5 to 14 international window to fine-tune their squads.
ZIFA are yet to respond to the request from the Kenya Football Federation.
The association’s spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, yesterday said they were still considering more options from the region.
“We are working on the plans for the AFCON qualifiers for the Warriors and, so far, we have received an invitation from Kenya for an international friendly,’’ he said.
“The details are still sketchy, at the moment, but I can confirm we are looking at the logistical issues.
“We are also looking at other options in the East and Southern Africa regions.’’
Some African nations have grabbed the opportunity and lined up, at most, two international friendly matches during the window. Zimbabwe coach, Zdravko Logarusic, who is yet to take charge of the team since his appointment earlier this year, has pleaded with ZIFA to, at least, arrange an international friendly.
The Croatian wants to have the best team available for selection during the qualifying encounters against the Desert Foxes.
He said the international friendlies would help him find combinations and his game plan.
Logarusic, however, is likely to work exclusively with the foreign-based players since domestic football is still to get the green-light to resume, from Government.
This follows a six-month ban due to the coronavirus outbreak.
ZIFA and Premier Soccer League have been pushing for the resumption of the game, of late, but Government was still looking at their proposals for a safe return to play.
“We have a crucial back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Algeria in November,’’ said Logarusic.
“We need every player to be available for selection, including the ones plying their trade in the domestic league.
“Granted, they may not stand a chance to make it in the team to compete against Algeria, because they will, obviously, be lacking match fitness.
“But, that depends on whether we will be able to secure all players plying their trade outside the country.’’
Zimbabwe are second in Group H with four points, two behind leaders Algeria, after two rounds of play.
Botswana are third and Zambia occupy the bottom place with a single point.
Kenya, who are second in Group G with two points, are likely to provide the Warriors with good competition.
Kenya Football Federation’s head, Nick Mwendwa, said they have lined up two international friendlies but would not confirm the opponents.
The East Africans are scheduled to host Comoros in their next back-to-back AFCON qualifiers against surprise Group G leaders Comoros.
“On October 10, we have a friendly game at home, actually we had planned to have two friendly matches before our home-and-away games against Comoros.
“However, we are yet to confirm the teams we will be playing in the build-up matches.
“The main thing now is for the Government to give us the green-light to start training,” he told Goal.
Kenya started their campaign for the 2021 AFCON, to be held in Cameroon, with an impressive 1-1 draw away to Egypt.
They followed it up with another draw, by a similar margin, in Nairobi, against Togo.
Zambia, who are in Group H with Zimbabwe, have confirmed they are one of the team to play Kenya on October 13.
Zambia have lined up two internationals on the window.
FAZ general secretary, Adrian Kashala, told a media briefing the two fixtures were part of the plans to ensure Chipolopolo get strong tests as they prepare for the 2021 African Nations Championships (CHAN) and the Cameroon 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
“Before we play the games against South Africa on the 11th (October 2020) and Kenya on the 13th of October, we are still look at possibilities of getting another (international) friendly match at home between October 5-9 on request from the technical bench.
“We realise that we cannot go in and play South Africa, without testing the waters at home first, so we want to prepare our team adequately back home before we fly into South Africa,’’ said Kashala.