Warriors in group of death

JOHANNESBURG - The draw for Gabon 2017 is out and the topical issue which had tongues wagging is Group B which comprises Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal and Zimbabwe.

Talk doing rounds on the continent is that while Zimbabwe has not qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament on a regular basis and arrive this year as rookies, they have the capacity to take the tournament by storm.

But that talk got a bit muted after Wednesday’s draw.

Algeria are probably the best side at the moment on the African continent and the fact that they qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where they held their own, shows they have what it takes to be ranked where they are.

Tunisia are another side that should never be taken for granted and their style of play is almost similar to that of Algeria, meaning if Zimbabwe cannot master the north Africans’ play, they might play second fiddle to the two.

As for Senegal, we all know that the West Africans are made of sterner steel and have some of the biggest names plying their trade in big leagues across Europe.

So where does this leave poor Kalisto Pasuwa and his inexperienced charges?

Man-for-man, Zimbabwe has one of the most impressive squads going to Gabon but the fact that they are handicapped by lack of game play, might work against most people’s expectations.

The Warriors are dormant during the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers and have not arranged any high-profile friendly internationals leading up to the Gabon championships, meaning they would begin the tournament without much game time.

This is not ideal and leaves Pasuwa with a tough task to negotiate this tough Group B.

It is never late though because Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa can pull off the impossible and can still organise matches for the Warriors.

I love his energy and skill to negotiate and for someone new in the industry, we need to take off our hats for Chiyangwa.

He talks non-stop and is capable of drawing water from a rock.

In the meantime, I would have wished Zimbabwe to be in any other group than Group B.

For example, they would easily negotiate Group A consisting of Burkina Faso, hosts Gabon, Cameroon and Guinea Bissau.

They could also beat most teams in Group C that is made up of champions Cote d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Morocco and Togo.

Group D which is made up of Ghana, Mali, Egypt and Uganda is also not the most intimidating of the four and if the gods had smiled on Zimbabwe it could have been thrown in one of those.

That having been said, it does not mean that the Warriors would be going to Gabon as cannon fodders. The country has an opportunity to make history by defying all the odds.

After all, those heavyweights did not find themselves perched at the top by good luck.

They fought hard to be where they are and in most cases fought against all odds.

Zimbabwe must go to Gabon with belief, solely focussed on the job at hand and one thing can lead to the other.

Zifa just needs to make sure funds are available for the team’s preparations and that issues of players’ bonuses are sorted out before they leave the country.

We might be in for some exciting tournament in which the Warriors could become the talking point.

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