Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE have set themselves the target to break the jinx at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations by going beyond the group stage for the first time.
The Warriors have previously qualified for the 2004, 2006 and 2017 finals but in all editions they perished in the first round.
However, ZIFA president Felton Kamambo yesterday said they have put in place a comprehensive plan to prepare for the 2019 finals set for Egypt between June 21 and July 19.
The plan includes a training camp in Europe and North Africa where they hope to engage in competitive friendly matches.
The Warriors are also set to use the COSAFA tournament as a platform to try out various tactics and combinations.
“We knew we were going to qualify and we have a master plan for AFCON. We have always been confident but we didn’t want to put the players under pressure.
“In terms of the preparations, I think we are on course. Our office has been working hard on that and we have some friendly matches lined up.
“There are some countries that have requested for friendlies and the good thing is some of these countries have agreed to fully fund the trips. We were just waiting to qualify and now that it’s done we can go ahead.
“I can also tell you that the players are going to camp in North Africa for two weeks to acclimatise. They will start off in Europe and then come back to finish off in Northern Africa. We will reveal most of the information later.
“Lastly, we had intended to use the Under-23s for the COSAFA tournament, but we then made a decision to use the senior team so that they can again take the advantage to prepare for AFCON,” said Kamambo.
There are plans to send Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa and the national Under-23 mentor Tonderai Ndiraya on one-month coaching attachments with foreign clubs.
Zimbabwe will know their opponents at the draw to be conducted on 12 April in Egypt.
The 24 teams will be seeded into four pots based on the CAF national team rankings.
The teams will be drawn into six groups of four with hosts Egypt seeded in Group A.
Warriors skipper Knowledge Musona believes, with proper planning, the Warriors could go far.
“I think now we have to go back to our clubs and start playing regularly to keep fit for the tournament.
“We also have to try and have good training camps and good (friendly) games before the tournament so that we prepare ourselves very well.
2019 AFCON finalists
Egypt (hosts), Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Cote d’lvoire, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Benin and South Africa.