By Sports Reporter
Zimbabwe’s home-based Warriors put on impressive display to thrash Indian Ocean Island minnows Mauritius 4-0 in the rescheduled first leg, second round tie in the 2020 African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers on Monday.
The match was initially scheduled for Sunday but it was delayed until today due to a waterlogged pitch at the New George V Stadium in Mauritius’ town of Curepipe.
Yadah FC winger Leeroy Mavunga and FC Platinum midfielder Never Tigere both scored a brace against a youthful Mauritian side.
The Indian Ocean islanders fielded an U20 squad as their senior team was in action over the weekend at the Indian Ocean Island Games.
The Warriors, who were under the tutelage of caretaker coach Rahman Gumbo following the resignation of Sunday Chidzambga now carry a seemingly insurmountable lead heading into the second leg set for next weekend at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo.
The winner of the two legged tie will face either South Africa or Lesotho in the final qualifying round for the tournament to be held in Cameroon next year.
South Africa lost 3-2 away to Lesotho in the first leg on Sunday after fielding mostly players from the Under-23 side.
Meanwhile the Warriors were handed a favourable draw in the preliminary round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers after being paired with Somalia during the draw in Egypt on Monday.
The Warriors will have to win their preliminary round clash to be held in September to qualify for the group stages of the World Cup qualifiers.
According to the format, round one of the qualifiers sees the lowest ranked 28 member associations play knockout matches‚ with the 14 winners advancing to round two.
The second round of qualifiers will be played as a group phase between March 2020 and October 2021‚ where the 14 winners of round one join the 26 other CAF nations to form ten groups of four member associations‚ with the ten group winners advancing to round three.
That final round is a straight knockout between the 10 sides to see which five teams will qualify for the 2020 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Zimbabwe, who are currently without a coach following Chidzambga’s abrupt resignation last Wednesday will be making a return to the FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time in four years.
The Warriors were expelled from the 2018 FIFA Soccer World Cup qualifying matches in 2015 due to the then ZIFA leadership’s failure to pay former coach Jose Claudinei Georgini.
Preliminary round draw:
Somalia vs Zimbabwe, Ethiopia vs Lesotho, Eritrea vs Namibia, Burundi vs Tanzania, Djibouti vs Eswatini, Botswana vs Malawi, Gambia vs Angola, Liberia vs Sierra Leone, Mauritius vs Mozambique, Sao Tome e Principe vs Guinea-Bissau, South Sudan vs Equatorial Guinea, Comoros Islands vs Togo, Chad vs Sudan, Seychelles vs Rwanda