By Sports Reporter
AFTER recently qualifying for their third successive Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals, the Zimbabwe Warriors will now shift their qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar following the release of the schedule of the first round of qualifiers by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Friday.
Zimbabwe, who are aiming to qualify for their maiden World Cup dance, are in Group G, which also features neighbours South Africa, West African giants Ghana and Ethiopia.
The Warriors will begin their battle for a place at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar with a potentially explosive showdown with South Africa at home during the weekend of June 5 to 8 before travelling to Ethiopia a week later, as the battle for a place at the global showcase in 2022 begins.
After the first two rounds of qualifiers, action resumes in September with the Warriors facing their toughest encounter of the qualifiers when they take on Ghana in back-to-back-home and away clashes between September 1 to 7.
The qualifiers conclude in October when the Warriors travel to South Africa on the weekend of October 6 to nine before concluding their qualification campaign with a home tie against Ethiopia during the weekend of October 10 to 12.
Only the table toppers of the 10 groups will meet and play an elimination game between 8th and 16th November 2021 with the five winners qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar.
Zimbabwe qualified for the group phase round of the qualifiers after beating Somalia 3-2 on aggregate in the first round of the qualifiers last year.
Together with Ethiopia, they are the only countries in Group G that have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup.
Three-time participants, South Africa failed to qualify for the last two editions of the global spectacle, with their last appearance dating back to 2010 when they were hosts of the global football showpiece.
Bafana Bafana will head into the upcoming World Cup qualifiers hoping to atone for the recent disappointment of their failure to qualify for AFCON finals to be held in Cameroon next January.
Ghana, Africa’s joint-best performers at the World Cup with a quarter-final appearance at South Africa 2010, have qualified for the tournament on three occasions.
Ghana are looking to make a return to the global showpiece since their last appearance at Brazil 2014 where they were eliminated in the group stage.
Here are the dates in full:
Zimbabwe vs South Africa 5 – 8 June
Ethiopia vs Zimbabwe 11 – 14 June
Ghana vs Zimbabwe 1 – 4 September
Zimbabwe vs Ghana 5 – 7 September
South Africa vs Zimbabwe 6 – 9 October
Zimbabwe vs Ethiopia 10 – 12 October