Christmas in camp for Warriors

HARARE - Eager to banish the ghosts of shoddy preparations that often rock Zimbabwean sport, Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa is pressing for early African Cup of Nations’ (Afcon) preparations.

Pasuwa has bluntly told his troops who are fighting for selection to represent the country at the continental showpiece that they will have to sacrifice time with family to spend Christmas in camp.

With the Mighty Warriors having paid the ultimate price for plunging into the Africa Women Cup of Nations (Awcon) short on match fitness, the former Dynamos gaffer is not taking any chances.

Zimbabwe is pooled alongside continental powerhouses Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia. Algeria are the third-best ranked side on the continent and during the 2017 Afcon qualifiers, they showed the continent why they are a powerhouse.

On paper, it’s one of the toughest groups in the tournament but Pasuwa will know that at this level of the game there are no easy assignments and in tournament competition rankings count for nothing.

“I am hoping that by December 22 I will be having all the squad in camp so that we can train together and go play these friendly matches,” Pasuwa said on the sidelines of the Soccer Stars Awards ceremony in the capital Friday night.

“There are some friendly matches that have been lined up and we need to utilise that opportunity so that we can actually gauge ourselves against our more fancied opponents at Afcon. That’s one area we have been lacking as Zimbabwe,” he added.
Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) says it has secured friendly matches against Ivory Coast on Boxing Day and Cameroon on January 10.

The country’s football governing body has also earmarked a run with Egypt before the 2017 Gabon but no confirmation has been given yet.

The side’s build up is expected to shift into a higher gear next month as they are set to camp in Yaoundé, Cameroon in a bid to acclimatise to the humid conditions of neighboring Gabon.

While history has shown that Warriors supporters cannot entirely put their faith into planned preparations because of Zifa bungling on previous occasions.

Financial at the Phillip Chiyangwa led association means Pasuwa has had to rely on unconventional means to stay adrift of his competition.

“I am depending mostly on videos footages to assess my foreign based players and as well as to study our opponents,” he said.

“We would have loved to go and see them play like we did when Senegal played South Africa. We sent Mkuphali Masuku to go and have a look at our opponents.

But once again due to financial constraints we have to rely on video material.”

Zifa is likely to face a mammoth task in raising funds for the upkeep of the Warriors with their main financier—government—making it clear last week through minister of sport Makhosini Hlongwane that treasury is broke.

Pulling no punches during Friday’s Soccer Stars of the Year banquet in Harare, Delta Beverages marketing director Maxen Karombo expressed disgust at the current chaos obtaining local football administration where relations between the country’s football mother body Zifa and the Premier Soccer league are frosty.

“I raised a red flag as a concerned citizen of Zimbabwe, as a concerned fan and as part of representatives from the sponsors that no one entertains domestic chaos and we would like to get to a point where football as peace and as forward looking,” Karombo said. 

“There is a lot that football can do to the community, there is a lot that football can do to the youngsters that are growing up and there is a lot that football can do in just uplifting the national morale so it is incumbent upon Zifa upon PSL and upon the government itself through the ministry of sport that there is order and peace in football and that’s all we are waiting for.  

“We don’t know the status of the Premier Soccer League in its relationship with Zifa. We don’t have any substantive chairman to engage with, we don’t know the status of the relegation so until football itself comes its consensus and they get organised behind a united front then they can meaningfully engage with any sponsor not just Delta.

“As it is it’s very difficult to engage with a disorganized structure. So we are only waiting for organised structure to come back not just us but everyone else who is interested in sponsoring football.

“We have spent the past six seasons supporting football and increasing the nature and format of our sponsorship. I don’t want to be drawn into any conclusions at the moment because honestly we don’t know what’s gonna happen until there is total sanity in football.

“So it must be incumbent upon football authorities to put their houses in order wherever they are and everyone else is a stakeholder in football must demand sanity in football and I think this is the only way we can progress."

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