HARARE - National team coach Calisto Pasuwa says while he is satisfied with his team’s preparations, lack of friendly matches remains a concern for the Warriors ahead of the 2016 African Nations Championships (Chan).
Pasuwa’s charges are set to leave on Saturday for the fourth edition of the Chan tournament in Rwanda where they are in Group D together with Mali, Zambia and Uganda.
The Warriors have been in camp for close to a month now preparing for the tournament that celebrates the crème de la crème of Africa’s local football but they are yet to test their combinations in a game situation.
The Zimbabwe Football Association had earlier lined up friendlies against Mozambique and Ethiopia but with time running out nothing has materialised, a scenario that is likely to see the Warriors playing their first match against Zambia without a friendly practice encounter.
And speaking after the team’s training session at the PHD Ministries grounds in Waterfalls which are still under construction; Pasuwa said he expects his charges to cope with the situation.
“I think so far so good. We have been having (injury) problems with some of the boys but I think they have recovered well,” Pasuwa told reporters after the team’s morning training session.
“With (routine) training you might be satisfied but you need to train with these other teams and see how these youngsters perform.
“We had wanted to test these boys prior to the tournament; remember some of them were playing in the Under-23 and I would have wanted to watch them in a normal game situation.
“Maybe our friendly match will be against Zambia and I hope the boys will adjust. I heard Zambia is playing some friendlies.”
Pasuwa added that they are likely to name their 23-man squad today.
“From the 26 guys that we have, we will have to drop three — maybe two or three days before our departure,” Pasuwa said.
“We are worried that if we release these players now we might suffer another injury during this period and make things difficult for ourselves.
“We already have our 23-man squad and we should be able to release it tomorrow (today).”
Zimbabwe will be making their fourth consecutive appearance at the tournament, which is specifically designed for footballers plying their trade in domestic leagues across the continent.
The Warriors finished fourth at the last edition held in South Africa.
The team, then under the guidance of Ian Gorowa, lost the bronze medal play-off match to Nigeria.
The first edition of the Chan tournament was held in 2009 in Ivory Coast with DR Congo emerging as the champions.
The second edition was held in 2011 in Sudan where Tunisia emerged winners while Libya won the third edition in South Africa in 2014.
The Chan in Rwanda will run from January 16 to February 7.