Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) have tied down former African champions Egypt to an international friendly match to be used as a dress rehearsal for the upcoming 2017 African Cup of Nations finals to be held in Gabon in January.
By Tafadzwa Ndiraire
The Warriors have been on the prowl for an opponent ahead of the biennial soccer showcase but have not been able to secure one with the majority of the teams playing in the world cup qualifiers.
The next international break in November the last this year will also see the Warriors being inactive as the soccer controlling body battles to secure an international friendly.
Zifa spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela however said Egypt wanted the international friendly to be played in January shortly before the start of the tournament. He also said they were still to agree on the date and the venue of the match.
Gwesela said Zifa had not succeeded to secure an international friendly for the team for the November Fifa international window as teams were involved in the world cup qualifiers.
“Egypt have said they want to play against us in early January before the tournament. We are still in negotiations with them regarding the venue and the actual date of the match. But they want the match to be played in Egypt. Most teams are playing in the world cup qualifiers so it is difficult to secure a friendly match during the November international break. There is also interest from Jamaica. They want to play against us but again we are still discussing the date and venue,” said Gwesela.
Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa believes a friendly match against any of the North African side will give him an indication how his charges will fare at the tournament.
This is the third time Zimbabwe will be appearing at the continental soccer showpiece after qualifying for the first edition in Tunisia in 2004 under Sunday Chidzambwa before another appearance at the finals in Egypt in 2006 under the guidance of Charles Mhlauri.
The Warriors will kick off the campaign against Algeria January 15 at the Stade de Franceville before taking on Senegal at the same venue four days later.
They will conclude the group stages with a match against Tunisia at the Stade L’Ammitse on January 23.
Zimbabwe has never progressed beyond the group stages since 2004 and Pasuwa will make history if he manages to advance to the last eight of the biennial soccer tournament.