THE WARRIORS will host Libya at the National Sports Stadium on January 4 as part of their preparations for the 2014 African Nations Championships (Chan) finals which will kick off a week later in South Africa.
Four days before the tournament begins, Zimbabwe will wind up preparations with a game against Gabon in Johannesburg at a venue yet to be confirmed, before they head off to their base in Cape Town.
Zimbabwe will make their third appearance in the finals after falling out in the group stages in Ivory Coast in 2009 and Sudan in 2011. They will play Uganda, Morocco and Burkina Faso at the Athlone Stadium.
Libya, who have also made the finals, will take on Ghana, Ethiopia and Congo. The Libya match had initially been set for Tripoli and later Morocco before being moved to Harare. Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela confirmed the match yesterday.
“The match has been set for January 4 in Harare. We want to ensure that the Warriors are adequately prepared for Chan because we want them to reach the quarter-finals this time and bring joy to the country,” he said.
The Warriors started camp last week, but were given two days off on Christmas Day and were expected to report back last night. Intensive training will continue until January 1 when coach Ian Gorowa will name the final 23-member squad for the finals.
While Gorowa would have wanted a 20-day camp in South Africa, Zifa’s well documented problems put paid to those hopes and they will have to be content with the two international matches.
Zifa has sent in a budget of $354 000 for the finals and Sport, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa has promised the funding. Last week, the Warriors were denied supper at their lodgings and Gorowa had to use his own money to buy food for the players — a situation which appeared to embarrass the ministry.
“We received their $354 000 budget for Chan, but it is unfortunate that we had that mishap last night (a week ago) where the national coach Ian Gorowa had to feed the Warriors. But I can say we are working with the Finance ministry to see how best we can assist the national team,” Langa said after last week’s budget presentation.
“I am quite happy and I believe it is a fair budget. It has accommodated my ministry. I will get the actual figures later on.”
Two weeks ago, the national association, Zifa, received a timely boost when it got technical assistance from kit manufacturer Umbro, but Zifa president Cuthbert Dube said more was needed to be done by the government to support the national cause.
“The senior men’s team is our flagship team and we had to ensure that they are not short of resources and other services. We need to give the team all the necessary support if they are to perform well.
“When the Warriors qualified for their maiden appearance at the African Cup of Nations in 2004, the government and sponsors fell over each other to sponsor the team’s preparations and participation. In 2006 once more the government and the sponsors stampeded over each other as they made material available and financial resources for the Warriors ahead of and during the 2006 Nations Cup.
“We are aware that the government and sponsors have faced challenges over the years in respect of sponsoring national teams. We implore the government to avail, as has been the tradition, a special tournament grant for national teams which qualify for regional, continental and international tournaments,” Dube said.
“A national team cannot be serviced by a football association whose huge debts are public knowledge. A national team cannot be sponsored by the Zifa president when other national teams, the world over, get sponsorship from their governments and sponsors.
“The senior national team’s preparations and participation at the 2014 Chan tournament require sponsorship in respect of apparel, transport, full board accommodation, allowances, beverages and other cost centres. I once more appeal for sponsors to come to the party in support of the Warriors and other national teams.”
Meanwhile, Uganda Cranes striker Frank Kalanda has skipped the team’s preparations for the 2014 Chan and opted to travel for trials in Vietnam.
“We have been looking for Kalanda to undergo medical tests with the rest of the players, but his Club URA FC have told us he travelled for trials in Vietnam,” head coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic told MTNFootball.com
“This is not good news because a player has preferred to go to Vietnam for trials instead of looking at the bigger picture.”