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Warriors make preparations for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

by Staff Writer
15 Apr 2019 at 11:53hrs | Views
As the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) loom large, Zimbabwe Warriors are beginning their preparations to get themselves as match-fit and sharp as possible. The Warriors sealed their place in the final stages by defeating Congo-Brazzaville 2-0 in their last group match on the 24th of March.

The Zimbabwean soccer team can hold their heads high after finishing top of their group, two-points clear of second-placed DR Congo. Their achievement confirms that the national team consists of serious contenders.

Having got to the final stages of the Africa Cup of Nations when it was last held in Gabon 2017, the Warriors's back to back qualification confirms their credibility on the AFCON stage.

This year's finals will be the 32nd time that the competition has been held since its inauguration in 1957 when just three teams competed. They were Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. South Africa were due to have made it four nations in total, but they were ruled out because of apartheid which was in force at the time.

The 2019 AFCON finals will take place in Egypt and are due to kick-off on the 21st of June. The home team are not favourites but with a striker like Liverpool's Mo Salah who is arguably the EPL's most valuable striker and the backing of home crowds, they will pose a danger to anyone they play.

As part of their intended preparations for the AFCON finals, the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) is hoping to arrange matches against a number of high-profile nations including Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Africa's Bafana Bafana.

It looks as though the first of the Warriors's friendlies will be against Nigeria's Super Eagles in Lagos in May, following reports that ZIFA has been holding talks with Nigerian Football Federation. It is also being rumoured that the NFF has extended an invitation to ZIFA for the Warriors to hold a three-week training camp in Lagos.

The number of nations taking part in the final stages of 2019 AFCON this year has been expanded from 16 to 24. The 24 national teams have been seeded into four groups or pots according to the CAF (Confederation of African Football) seedings.

The national team #all">world rankings as compiled by FIFA were updated on the 4th of April, and the good news for Zimbabwean fans is that the Warriors have climbed three places. They are now rated 110. As far as the African continent is concerned this puts them 26th. With regard to seeding in the FCON tournament, they have been put in pot three.

The other five teams that Zimbabwe will have to play in pot three are: Angola (122), Burundi (136), Guinea-Bissau (118), South Africa (73) and Uganda (79). The figures in brackets are each country's FIFA world rankings.

Warriors are the third highest ranked in their group behind South Africa and Uganda. With the top two teams in the final group table going through to the next round, the Zimbabwean side are going to have their work cut out to get through to the next stage.

As mentioned in a previous post, ZIFA are attempting to entice Arsenal striker Riess Nelson to play for the Warriors in the 2019 AFCON tournament. He is currently on loan to Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga.
If he can be drafted into the Zimbabwean squad, it would enhance their chances of progressing further in the competition. However, with the possibility of playing for the English national team in the future, it will be a huge ask.

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Source - Byo24News

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