Warriors line up Europe friendlies

THE Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and their Zambian counterparts are making an audacious attempt for the Warriors and Chipolopolo to play an international friendly in Europe as the two gear up for tough African Cup of Nations qualifiers next year. The games are supposed to be played in Europe in order to accomodate foreign-based players  who ply their trade in Europe.

Zimbabwe faces a tough away fixture to group favourites Mali while Zambia travels to Libya during the last weekend of March next year.
Zifa have since requested international friendlies against the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.
There are two dates for international friendlies on the Fifa calendar before Zimbabwe takes on Mali and Zifa are looking to utilise both.
The Cuthbert Dube-led association is already looking beyond the next match against Cape Verde on October 10 through preparations for the Mali trip.
With players playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid, to mention two top clubs, Mali are clearly the toughest opponents in the group of four that includes Liberia where the Norman Mapeza coached Warriors managed to secure a valuable point last week.
The Warriors were hoping to play Ghana but the Black Stars have opted to play Zimbabwe at a later date than the proposed November 17.
Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze told independentsport that the Zambia match was definite, but they were now working on the logistics with their Zambian counterparts.
“I was speaking to Kalusha at the weekend and we were discussing the best ways to play meaningful games that help prepare our teams for the tough assignments that we have,” said Mashingaidze.
“We want to play a friendly where we will have all our players available and also not jeopardise our relations with the players’ employers. We usually have problems with bringing some of our players  in Europe and other areas outside Africa because there is usually limited time for them to travel home for the matches and then back to their bases.
“So far the proposal is that we work out a neutral venue and in this case it’s likely to be in Europe and then we get all our foreign based players there for a high profile friendly.
“The away game to Mali is a big game for us and we have to prepare adequately for it.” Zambian legend Bwalya is the president of Zambia’s football association. 
Fifa rules indicate that players are allowed to leave their clubs at least 48 hours before a friendly international, while clubs have to release players to national teams five days before their next official games.
The idea has been used by most of the West African national teams who have many players in Europe.
Countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Mali, among others, have opted to play their friendly matches in Europe even when they face non-European nations. But the idea has not been without its critics as some feel it denies the home fans a chance to watch some of these high profile friendlies.
Yet for Zimbabwe it would afford an opportunity for thousands of locals living in the United Kingdom a chance to watch the Warriors in action, if the country hosts the match.
Zifa has been criticised for not organising proper preparatory matches for the Warriors.
Ahead of the first games of the qualifiers, most countries played friendlies while Zimbabwe was idle with caretaker coach Mapeza expressing his concern over the failure.

 

Kevin Mapasure

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