The Warriors’ journey in the 2023 Afcon Qualifiers will begin this June after CAF confirmed their path at a draw held on Tuesday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Zimbabwe were drawn into Group K alongside Morocco, Liberia and COSAFA rivals South Africa.
But the with so many obstacles along the way, the campaign could be derailed before it starts.
We look at four main problems that need to be sorted out before qualifiers start in June.
Lifting of the FIFA ban
Probably the biggest huddle standing in the Warriors’ path, the ban was ratified by the FIFA Congress in March. The national team will not be able to feature in any CAF/FIFA competition as long as the sanctions are still there.
To participate in the qualifiers, Zimbabwe will need to reinstate the suspended Felton Kamambo-board, as per FIFA demands, at least two weeks before the games begin.
But the SRC seem unmoved by the ban since they believe dissolving the Zifa board is a long term solution to the problems affecting Zimbabwean football.
The Kamambo-led executive also has pending cases in the courts, where they are accused of bribing their way into office in the last Zifa election back in December 2018.
Appointment of a substantive coach
The national team has no substantive coach in place following the sacking of Zdravko Logarusic in September 2021.
It’s now over seven months since the firing, and the recruitment of a new coach has been delayed since February, when interim boss Norman Mapeza’s contract ended.
A new technical team is needed well in time before the start of the qualifiers.
But without a fully functioning Zifa administration, the appointment of a new substantive coach will violate the Zifa constitution, which requires an elected to be consulted in such cases.
And if the SRC ignore that, a contract dispute would arise that will stir more turmoil in the local football should the Kamambo-led executive be reinstated.
A similar incident happened when the Warriors were preparing to play at the 2021 Afcon tournament.
The suspended board nullified the appointment and imposed sanctions on the association’s CEO Xolisani Gwesela.
Old national team squad
Zdravko Logarusic was tasked with rebuilding the squad when he assumed office in 2020.
But following his sacking a year-and-a-half later, due to pressure from local football fans the team’s poor performance, the project was suspended.
If a new coach comes in place, the rebuilding exercise will resume, albeit all over again.
But with little time left before the qualifiers, this has become a problem of its own.
Group K opponents South Africa started their rebuilding last year and are better placed than the Warriors ahead of the games.
CAF recently upheld its ban on all local stadiums from hosting senior men teams’ international matches.
The National Sports Stadium, which had hosted the Warriors’ previous matches, had its temporary approval expired in November after the final World Cup Qualifier against Ethiopia.
The Harare venue still has red flags in several areas that require urgent attention for the stadium to meet required standards.
With just two months away from the qualifiers, Zimbabwe is at risk of hosting their home games on foreign soil.