Zimbabwean football legend and former Zimbabwe Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa has issued a warning to Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) that the team’s chances of reaching the 2017 African Cup of Nations risk being scuppered by poor preparations for the qualifiers which start in June.
Chidzambwa told Zimbabwe’s leading daily, The Herald that while the majority of the people in the domestic football family celebrated as fair and in some instances easy, the outcome of the Nations Cup qualifying draw which pitted Zimbabwe against Malawi, Guinea and Swaziland, the journey to Gabon 2017 “will not be an easy road’’.
The history-making gaffer, who was the first coach to take the Warriors to the Nations Cup in 2004, installed Zimbabwe as underdogs in the group arguing that Malawi and Guinea were currently stronger sides.
Chidzambwa said it was also difficult to really rate Zimbabwe given the fact that the Warriors currently stand disbanded with ZIFA having opted to focus on the national Under-23 side.
“I don’t agree with people saying it is an easy draw. No it is not an easy group. Malawi and Guinea are quite strong. I watched Malawi playing Mali in the previous campaign at home. That team is not easily beaten at home. They are a very strong side.
“And if you look at Guinea that team which was playing at AFCON and reached the quarter-final stage is a strong team.So we have to really work hard to reach the levels of those teams.
“Do we have that time to reach that level and form a formidable team? If we say we will field Under-23s, hey, that would be a tall order as well. Some of the players are also scattered all over some in the United Kingdom and in other leagues,” Chidzambwa said.
“Let me be very honest about the African Cup of Nations qualifiers which start in June, it is a bit late, unfortunately. Do we have a team? We are playing against sides that have teams which were competing in the last Nations Cup campaign. It will be a tall order.
“I don’t know whether ZIFA is going to let the Under-23 continue or appoint a coach that will build a side which has a mixture of Under-23s and old players, I don’t know.
“But the unfortunate part in our case is that the first game is on June 13 and we only have May to prepare. In May if we are going to use foreign-based players, we can’t afford to leave the likes of Billiat (Khama) and Musona (Knowledge) and we can only have such players mid-May,” said Chidzambwa.