PANIC stricken Zifa has lined up an international friendly match for the Warriors against Zambia next month ahead of the next round of the African Cup of Nations qualifying games next year.
The embattled Zifa board was left scurrying for clues on how to charm the fans after the Warriors’ flat show against Cape Verde that culminated in a nil-all draw.
Zimbabwe has a crucial double header against Mali in March and June next year with the first game set for Bamako before the Warriors’ host the star studded West Africans.
Among other things, the Cuthbert Dube-led organisation has been blamed for their failure to utilise Fifa friendly match windows to organise some sparring games for the team last Sunday.
Last Sunday, the Warriors struggled for fluency in the first half, substantiating the call for the team to get more playing time together.
But after being snubbed by most of the teams they were luring for friendly internationals, Zimbabwe has agreed to play neighbours Zambia on November 17 in a match both teams are expected to field full strength teams.
Zifa acting chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze confirmed that all was set for the match which is likely to be played in Zambia as the Warriors gear up for the tough away fixture.
“The Zambia FA has since agreed to play us on the day with both teams expected to field full strength sides to adequately prepare the teams ahead of next year’s qualifiers,” he said. “We just have to tie up a few things now but the game is definitely on. We are also working flat out on another game with another strong team in February where we are hoping to play that game in Europe so that the boys get used to playing away from home. We are optimistic that we will get good opponents.”
The Zambians, coached by Italian Dario Bonetti, lost their last qualifier to Libya after posting a win in the first round of matches against the Comoros Islands.
They face Mozambique in their next two qualifying games.
The weekend result left Zimbabwe sweating on its chances of making it to the African Cup of Nations finals in 2012 having collected two points from as many games. Two points separate the Warriors from surprise leaders Cape Verde.
With the Zifa board being blamed for the team’s poor show, the association has stepped a gear up on making sure that they utilise the two dates available for friendlies next month and in February before the next round of matches.
Zifa has since written to Ivory Coast, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal in a bid to play either of them.
New coach Tom Saintfiet has since indicated the need to play preparatory matches against strong opponents.
After a barrage of criticism over the handling of the appointment of the national team coach, Zifa was hoping for a win at the weekend that would give them a respite.
But the weekend result fanned the flames with many blaming the mother body for the poor show. There was a lot of confusion on the eve of the match over the coaches after Saintfiet was forced out of the country having commenced preparations for the game without a work permit.
It all culminated in Norman Mapeza taking over on a care taker basis while the Belgian awaited permission to work in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe was as flat as can be, failing to produce any meaningful attempt at goal in the entire first period of the game.
The second period saw an improved performance but the wish of notching up a win was to remain ungratified.
Mapeza blamed his strikers for failing to take their chances after dominating possession for longer periods in the match.
Saintfiet is still awaiting his work permit but is expected to be fully in charge when Zimbabwe plays Zambia next month.