By Petros Kausiyo
Warriors team manager Sharif Mussa has rallied Zimbabweans to help ZIFA to adequately prepare the team for the Nations Cup finals arguing there is no use continuing to fret over the strengths and high-profile status of their Group B opponents.
The Warriors were drawn into a strong pool that includes Africa’s second, third and fourth best teams – Senegal, Algeria and Tunisia.
Mussa, who represented Zimbabwe when CAF conducted the draw, argued yesterday the best way to counter the strong opposition is to ensure that Callisto Pasuwa’s men would be adequately prepared by the time they face the Desert Foxes in their opening Group B game in Franceville on January 15.
“I have noticed that a lot has been said about how strong Algeria look or who Senegal and Tunisia have in their teams, but we also have quality in our team and we believe in ourselves,” said Mussa.
“I think we should be worrying more about how best we can get our team to prepare for the tournament and it is a challenge for every Zimbabwean to help ZIFA to give the team the best preparations possible as you know it is more about resources.
“The ZIFA president appealed to the Zimbabweans at home and in the Diaspora to help and if we can get six million Zimbabweans giving a dollar each to football then it will guarantee us enough money for our campaign”.
Mussa also joined coaches, managers and various team administrators on a familiarisation tour of the match venues, training grounds and hotels where the official delegations will be staying.
The affable Warriors manager said his interaction with such coaches like Frenchman Herve Renard, who won the Nations Cup with Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda’s Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic as well as delegations from such countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Cameroon had revealed that the majority of the finalists had already gathered momentum in their preparations.
“A lot of the teams who will play at the AFCON have sealed their plans for their intensive camps and most of them are looking at having two weeks of intensive camping before the tournament starts.
“From what I gathered the teams would want to play warm-up matches against countries that will be based in the same area or nearby to where they will be camping, for example Cote d’Ivoire have indicated they will either be going to Dubai or Abu Dhabi,” Mussa said.
He said he had, in consultation with Pasuwa, submitted a document to ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa and his leadership, detailing their plans for the Warriors preparations.
That detailed action plan, which he said covered the critical path that ZIFA and the Warriors need to travel to ensure the team’s adequate preparations, Mussa also pleaded with the association to arrange friendly matches on the FIFA international dates.
Mussa said teams such as Morocco and Uganda are already keen to play against the Warriors if feasible dates are agreed to which ensure all parties can be able to call on their key players.
“Herve Renard has no problems having his Morocco team to play with Zimbabwe, but he also wants to know what our plans are so that a date and venue can be arranged,” said Mussa.
“Micho (Uganda coach) brought his team here the last time and he was telling me that we owe him a return trip to Kampala.
“So, as explained in our letter to ZIFA, the issue of our plans for the preparations is one area that we have to work on and resources are certainly needed in that respect.”
Mussa also established during his tour of the facilities that Zimbabwe and Algeria will share the same hotel with Tunisia staying on the same complex with Senegal in Franceville.
Libreville, Franceville, Port Gentil and Oyem are the host cities of the Nations Cup tournament with the capital’s Stade de l’Amitie billed to stage the opening day’s games between Gabon and Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso’s showdown against Cameroon as well as one of the semi-final matches and the final.
“I also noted that except for the official delegation all the other visitors would need to pay visa fees ($75).
“We had a look at the stadium and I think in terms of preparedness they are almost ready. They have to fine-tune on accommodation, logistic and transport and they indicated that they are setting up committees that will be working with the teams.
“The two hotels that will house the Group B teams are situated 40km from the airport in Franceville and 60km from the stadium, but the training pitch is just adjacent the hotel and players can actually walk from their rooms.
“It is a pretty new hotel, smart and nice, but nothing posh, but there is certainly need for us to travel with our own chefs at least two of them and the Algerians have already indicated that they will be travelling with a number of kitchen staff because of halal food and all the specifics they want,” Mussa said.
Warriors Group B Fixtures Algeria v Zimbabwe Jan 15 (Stade de Franceville – Franceville); Senegal v Zimbabwe Jan 19 (Stade de Franceville – Franceville); Zimbabwe v Tunisia Jan 23 (Stade de l’Amitie – Libreville) The Herald