ZIMBABWE’S failure to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) saw them drop a massive 12 places to 119 in the latest Fifa/Coca-Cola world rankings released yesterday.
In Africa, the Warriors, who have only made two appearances in the Afcon finals in 2004 and 2006, dropped to 38 from 26 as they continued their free-fall.
Zimbabwe have 258 points, down from 301 in the last ranking. The Warriors, under Ian Gorowa, were booted out by Tanzania in the preliminary round of the Afcon 2015 qualifiers after losing 0-1 away and drawing 2-2 at home.
Zifa responded by “disbanding” the senior national team and started a rebuilding with an Under-23 side coached by Kalisto Pasuwa after Gorowa resigned.
The Warriors played three friendly matches towards the end of last year, the notable one being against former African champions Morocco.
In January, Caf approved the 2017 Afcon qualifying schedule, which will see the Warriors back in action on the weekends of June 8 and 16.
Fifty-two teams will be engaged. They will be divided into 13 groups of four teams each. The first from each group shall qualify for the final stage, as well as the best two runners-up, excluding the group of the host country, from which only one team will qualify.
Also, if due to the withdrawal of one team and a group happens to be left with just three teams, the group will not be considered when determining the best second team.
The draws for the groups will be done on April 8 2015 in Cairo, Egypt immediately after the announcement of the host country of the 2017 edition.
African champions Ivory Coast have moved up to 20th place in the global rankings (second in Africa) while Ghana’s Black Stars are now ranked 25th in the world (third in Africa).
Afcon 2015 hosts Equatorial Guinea were the big winners in the latest rankings as they moved up to 49th in the world (12th in Africa).
Algeria remained Africa’s best-ranked side — 18th in the world, just two places above Ivory Coast.
Meanwhile, the Young Warriors, who were scheduled to go into camp today, will no longer travel to Swaziland next week after the Southern African country pulled out due to financial constraints.
Zifa confirmed the developments yesterday, quoting a letter written by National Football Association of Swaziland (NFAS) chief executive Frederick Mngomezulu.
Mngomezulu wrote to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on January 23 advising them of Swaziland’s inability to take part in the qualifiers.
“NFAS hereby kindly, with deep regret, forwards to Caf the withdrawal of her U-23 men’s national team (Olympic team) from the All-Africa Games Democratic Republic of Congo 2015 qualifiers and completion,” he wrote.
“It has been very difficult to come to this decision given the commitment of the NFAS towards all activities of CAF, including the participation in all CAF competitions, but lack of finances (unforeseen) to prepare and honour the forthcoming matches, including all associated expenses, caused the NFAS to come to this painful decision to withdraw its team.”
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said the team would continue its preparations, but not as has been scheduled before revocation of the Swaziland tie.
“Against the background of this unfortunate development we have postponed the camp to a date which we will announce in due course,” Gwesela told the association’s official website www.zifa.org.zw
“We will not sit on our laurels. We are planning a vibrant and ambitious camping and training programme.”
World top 10
1 Germany 2 Argentina 3 Colombia 4 Belgium 5 Netherlands 6 Brazil 7 Portugal 8 France 9 Uruguay 10 Spain
Africa top 10
1 Algeria, 2 Ivory Coast, 3 Ghana, 4 Tunisia, 5 Cape Verde, 6 Senegal, 7 Nigeria, 8 Guinea, 9 Cameroon, 10 DRC