Zimbabwe will not play the pre-CHAN international friendlies which were supposed to take place in early January.

The Warriors’ locally-based team had planned to play Congo-Brazzaville, Kenya and Rwanda before their arrival in Cameroon for the tournament.

But the arrangement has been cancelled, and the national side will fly straight to West Africa without playing any friendly match.

Team manager Wellington Mpandare confirmed the development to The Herald.

He said: “Initially we were supposed to play Congo-Brazzaville, but then we would need to go there via Ethiopia, spend a night there and then proceed the following day.

“We do the same routine on the way back home, and that would mean at least four days are wasted on travelling alone, which is not ideal considering we have little time left. Every hour is important, considering where we are coming from.

“The coronavirus pandemic has also made travelling hectic. Then there was also Rwanda who came up with a proposal, but this too was not feasible because of the difficulties in travelling, and the huge financial costs that were involved.”

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Mpandare said the team will continue playing practice matches with local clubs unless they secure another international friendly with one of the participating sides once they arrive in Cameroon.

“Maybe we will be able to arrange a friendly match against one of the participating teams when we arrive in Cameroon.

“So we may revert to Plan A, which was to camp here, play a few more practice matches with the local clubs and then fly directly to Cameroon,” he added.

Zimbabwe are in Group A and will play in the opening match against Cameroon on January 16 before the games against Burkina Faso and Mali.

The CHAN competition is reserved for players plying their trade in their domestic leagues.