Home SPORTS D-day for Warriors revealed

D-day for Warriors revealed

Mapeza Wants Warriors AFCON Squad Retained For 2023 Qualifiers

D-day for Warriors revealed.

ZIMBABWE has exactly two weeks to find a way to get the suspension imposed by FIFA lifted for the Warriors to feature in the 2023 AFCON finals. Whatever is being done, towards getting the FIFA suspension lifted, should be completed in the next two months.

However, in the event the local authorities have decided the cleansing of local football remains a bigger mission, than playing in the next Nations Cup qualifiers, then the deadline set by CAF, will be of no significance,

But, if there are some boardroom processes, to try and get the suspension lifted, then they have to be completed within the next 14 days.

Why?

Because CAF have now released the date the Warriors are set to get their 2023 AFCON campaign. The Warriors are scheduled to host the Lone Star of Liberia on June 9 in their first Group K qualifier.

This means that, in the event there are moves to get the Warriors to play in that match, all the processes have to be complete by either May 25 or 26.

CAF ruled that for Zimbabwe and Kenya to play in the qualifiers, the two countries have to ensure that the suspension imposed by FIFA should be lifted, at least, two weeks before they play their first matches.

There will be a constant diet of AFCON qualifiers, for almost a fortnight, at the start of next month, according to the fixture list released by organisers.

CAF have sent dates for the first two rounds of the group phase to member associations, and qualifiers for the 2023 finals in Cote d’Ivoire will be played daily from 1-9 June, with further fixtures on 13 June.

The games have been spread out to accommodate plans by Africa’s five representatives at this year’s World Cup and other countries to squeeze some friendly matches into the two-week international window.

Qualifiers for the 2023 Nations Cup, much like the 2022 World Cup preliminaries, are again characterised by a high number of countries having to move their home matches to neutral venues because of the poor standard of their stadia.

Burkina Faso, Burundi, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Sao Tome e Principe and South Sudan have already secured alternate venues.

Elsewhere, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe have yet to communicate their home venue for matches.

The issue of Kenya and Zimbabwe’s participation is also still in the balance as both were included in last month’s draw on the premise they might have their global bans, imposed by FIFA, lifted.

But there has been no movement over the past few weeks on the issue for either country, who, if they do not have their suspensions lifted two weeks before their first matches, will be kicked out of the competition.

The third and fourth round of qualifiers will be played in September, with the last two rounds in March next year.

The top two teams in each of the 12 groups will advance to the finals, except from Group H where only one qualifies as the Ivorians are already assured of a place at the finals as hosts.

Holders Senegal, who clinched the 2021 Nations Cup by beating Egypt on penalties in the final in Cameroon in February, will face Benin, Mozambique and Rwanda in Group L.

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 qualifiers (all kick-off times GMT)

9 June

λ Guinea Bissau v Sao Tome e Principe (Agadir, Morocco, 1300) – Group A

λ ZIMBABWE v Liberia (venue tbc, 1300) – Group K

λ Nigeria v Sierra Leone (Abuja, 1600) – Group A

λ Morocco v South Africa (Rabat, 1900) – Group K

13 June

λ Sao Tome e Principe v Nigeria (Marrakech, Morocco, 1300) – Group A

λ South Africa v ZIMBABWE (Johannesburg, 1300) – Group K

λ Sierra Leone v Guinea Bissau (venue tbc, 1300) – Group A

λ Liberia v Morocco (Casablanca, Morocco, 1900) – Group K

Source – Sports Reporter/BBC Sport

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