June 1 is the day reserved for international friendlies by world football body Fifa, but this day will just be another day in winter for the Warriors who would have wanted to gauge their strength.
It is understood that several countries are reluctant to play international friendlies against Zimbabwe following the match-fixing scandal that hit the senior national team. The Warriors travelled to Asia over the past years where they were paid to throw away matches by betting syndicates.
No Friendly In Between – CEO
Jonathan Mashingaidze, the Zifa chief executive officer said the association had failed to secure any international friendly match for the Warriors ahead of their crunch Nations Cup encounter against Mali.
“The Warriors are not going to have any international friendly match in between now and June 5, when we are going to play Mali at home,” said Mashingaidze.
“We have actually started preparing for August 10 where we hope to secure an international friendly for the team. The performance of our Warriors and their current rankings can now allow us to have bigger and better opponents in these friendly matches.”
Mapeza wanted friendly matches
Warriors head coach Norman Mapeza said it would have been ideal for the senior national team to play an international friendly before their encounter against Mali and had forwarded his plans to Zifa.
“We took our request to Zifa, but organising an international friendly with other countries is different from organising a friendly match between clubs. We only make a request to Zifa, which I did and they are the ones who tell us which country we are going to play and when, but usually on the international friendlies calendar days,” said Mapeza.
“I know South Africa will be playing Tanzania this weekend but as Warriors, we have nothing for this weekend.
“A number of our players are busy in their different leagues, which are about to come to an end; hence they need time to finalise things at their bases. But when we regroup for the Mali tie, I know we will be having a lot of players in camp because most of them will be on off-season at their respective clubs, so they will be at home for the summer break,” Mapeza added. The Warriors need to win the match against Mali at all costs to keep pressure on log leaders Cape Verde and Mali hoping that one of the two or both drop points along the way.
The Warriors are in third place having collected two points from three matches. Zimbabwe drew one-all with Liberia and managed the same scoreline against Cape Verde before losing 1-0 to Mali in the first leg in Bamako.