Zimbabwe will start their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers in the preliminary round following the release of the latest FIFA Rankings on Thursday.

The Warriors missed the spot to get a bye after dropping to number 27 in Africa.

According to the format of the qualifiers, the 26 highest ranked teams at the time of the draw will be exempted from the preliminary round. The 28 bottom-placed sides will be paired and the winners in the encounters will join the top-ranked teams in the group stages.

The draw for the World Cup qualifiers is expected to be done next at the CAF Headquarters in Egypt.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is making a return after missing the 2018 edition due to a ban which came as a result of failure to pay former coach Valinhos his outstanding salaries.

The qualifying format will go through three phases as follows:

First round: 28 teams (ranked 27–54) will play home-and-away over two legs. The 14 winners will advance to the second round.

Second round: 40 teams (teams ranked 1–26 and 14 first-round winners) will be divided into 10 groups of four teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The 10 group winners will advance to the third round.

Third round: The 10 teams, which will have advanced from the second round, will play home-and-away over two legs. The five winners will qualify for the World Cup.