WARRIORS coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels is asking for a training camp in a North African country prior to next month’s World Cup qualifier match against Egypt.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
Zimbabwe travel to Cairo for the March 22 tie, aiming to improve their third place standing in Group G which also include Guinea and Mozambique.
Following a 2-1 victory over lightweights Botswana in an international friendly match last week, Pagels also feels his newly-assembled team needs one more friendly match before they plunge into the waning World Cup qualifying campaign that he is expected to breathe life into.
The German is well-aware his plans are not likely to be approved by the cash-strapped Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).
“I need us to organise a training camp up there in the north near Egypt to acclimatise to sub-Saharan conditions,” said Pagels.
“It would be convenient for European-based players because they will just have a short flight and get there on time due to the proximity of North Africa to Europe. I also hope to get one more friendly game to fine-tune my system of play. But at the end of the day, it is all about the availability of money and that is our biggest challenge,” he said.
Zifa vice-president Ndumiso Gumede however, quickly dismissed Pagels’ demands, arguing that apart from the association being in a financial quagmire, the match was likely to be moved from Egypt to a neutral venue by the Confederation of African Football.
Perennial unrest continue to plague Egypt with the latest bloody protests being sparked after 19 fans and two footballers were sentenced to death for instigating last year’s football riots that claimed 74 lives during match between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly.
This could force CAF to declare Egypt an unsafe football zone.
“Pagels knows our circumstances very well. It is not a secret that we have no money. After all, that match might not be played in Egypt because we have written to both Fifa and CAF to change the venue for fear of violent protests in that country. At the moment we are just waiting for those bodies to come back to us and we will not mind any other place where the match would be played,” said Gumede.
In 1993, former Warriors coach Reinhard Fabisch and goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar were struck by misiles by Egyptian fans during a World Cup qualifier match, forcing Fifa to move the match to neutral venue in France.
Now Pagels and his youthful Warriors face the superiorly-resourced Egyptians who drew nil-all against Georgia in Tbilisi in November last year in an international friendly match, before losing to Ghana and Ivory Coast 3-0 and 4-2 respectively in other sparring sessions, both staged in the United Arab Emirates last month.
The Bob Bradley-coached and equally rebuilding Pharaohs went down 2-1 to Chile in Madrid, Spain on the same day the Warriors edged Botswana.