Warriors depart for Lesotho tie

02 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
Warriors depart for Lesotho tie Jordan Zemura training with the warriors

Tadious Manyepo, Harare Bureau

All players called for the Warriors 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and South Africa starting this week are expected to arrive in South Africa today.

They will engage Lesotho at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday in a match where Zimbabwe will be the home team before they face South Africa at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein four days later.

Due to this arrangement, the Warriors will, starting today, camp in South Africa for the duration of the two matches.
Fifa Forward manager Kudzi Chitima told Zimpapers Sports Hub yesterday that every member of the team will meet at OR Tambo International Airport, where the South Africa-based Zimbabwe footballers will pick them up for lunch.

“I can confirm that all the players will meet at OR Tambo International Airport tomorrow (today) ahead of the camp that starts immediately after,” he said.

“We have put everything together and I can tell you that our legends and active players based in South Africa will take the team from the airport to the hotel.”

Chitima said all locally based players, who are part of the national team and the technical staff, have already signed their contracts, while the others will put pen to paper as soon as they arrive in South Africa.

“All contracts for the players are ready. The locally based players have already signed their contracts,” he said.

“We will make sure that those coming from different parts of the world will sign theirs upon arrival in South Africa before we even start training sessions.”

This development is sure to ascertain that everything will be smooth during the camp in South Africa, unlike what happened in the Warriors’ previous camp in Rwanda, when the players ended up boycotting training in the run-up to their second of the double-header fixtures against Nigeria, having already played a goalless stalemate against Rwanda.

Despite being home away from home in their fixture against Lesotho on Friday, Zimbabweans in South Africa are running around to ensure that the Warriors feel at home.

And the South Africa-based Zimbabwe Footballers Association is playing a leading role. Chairperson of the association and former Warriors defensive stalwart Alexander Maseko said they organised a bus to ferry the team to their hotel from the airport, with different Zimbabwean-owned entities, including Zororo-Phumulani, putting together the required resources.

“As the South Africa-based Zimbabwe Footballers Association, we have organised ourselves, partnering with different entities, and put together a bus to shuttle the team during their stay here,” said Maseko.

“All we want to do is ease pressure on our team. We have different Zimbabwean-owned companies and fans in support of the initiative.

“The embassy is also well in support and we are very happy. We will try to drum up support for the team and make the match at Orlando Stadium look very much homely.”

Warriors star Jordan Zemura began the critical week for the national team by giving a hand to budding footballers in Harare.

The Udinese midfielder arrived in the country from his base in Italy on Friday.

And the 23-year-old officially launched his Jordan Zemura Foundation with an eight-team Under-12 tournament at Jam Tree in Mt Pleasant yesterday. The initiative was conceptualised last year, with Zemura donating football kits to different nurseries in the country.

Underprivileged kids and several academies will immediately start benefiting from the charity organisation, which has already poured in excess of US$30 000 to kick-start its operations.

The foundation’s operations manager Tendai Zemura said the charity entity will also start its own football academy.

And there cannot be any better tonic than beginning a crucial Warriors’ week by giving back to the community by one of its key figures. Zemura will today join the local contingent of the national team, including members of the technical team and Zifa Normalisation Committee members, on the plane to South Africa.

Warriors interim coach Jairos Tapera could stick to the tried and tested guns to line up against Lesotho, with the Manica Diamonds coach showing his likeness of those who have been in the trenches by trying to lure back Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona and Nyasha Mushekwi into the team last week.

But all that will depend on who does well at training in the next four days.

Zimbabwe have two points from as many games after the goalless draw against Rwanda and a 1-1 tie against Nigeria.

Rwanda lead Group C standings on four points, with South Africa second on three, while Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Lesotho are tied on two points each.

Benin anchor the standings on a single point in a pool where only the winners will make it to the 2026 World Cup that is scheduled to be jointly hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States.

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