10 January 2013

Zimbabwe/Malawi: Pagels Lines Up Warriors Friendly With Malawi

NEW Warriors coach Klaus Dieter Pagels and his technical team are keen to make use of the February 6 date for Fifa international friendly matches with a possible clash against the Flames of Malawi.

Pagels and his lieutenants are hoping to use the match as the first step in rebuilding the Warriors brand from the ashes of their failed 2013 African Cup of Nations campaign and the Asiagate scandal.

Zifa, who dissolved the entire national team after failing to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament last year, are looking to start on a fresh page and returning team manager Sharrif Mussa yesterday said they had to plan with the World Cup qualifiers, which resume in March, in mind.

Pagels is under pressure to assemble a competitive outfit before the Warriors resume their faltering World Cup campaign with a tough assignment away to Egypt.

The Warriros got off to a false start under Rahman Gumbo after losing 1-0 to Guinea at home and then featuring in a goalless draw against Mozambique in Maputo.

In fact the Warriors are still to find the target in the World Cup qualification bid.

Pagels yesterday met with his technical team, which includes assistant coach Lloyd Mutasa, goalkeepers' coach Nkululeko Dhlamini and Mussa, for the first time and tabled his plans and working methodology to the football mother body.

Zifa board member development Benedict "Grinder" Moyo was also in attendance.

Mussa, who is the team spokesperson, said they are faced with a difficult task because of the limited time-frame in which they are expected to bring the Warriors back to life.

Zifa, Moyo said, have laid down plans to hold a regional tournament in Harare later this month where they are expected to come up with a strong Under-23 side which will be fused with the old guard who have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the Asiagate scandal and are eligible for Warriors selection.

But Mussa said they would want at least two friendly matches before they clash with former African champions Egypt in Cairo.

The Warriors are expected to travel to Cairo t face the Pharaohs when the World Cup African Zone qualifiers resume in March.

"We would love to use the February 6 Fifa international friendlies date and definitely we would want another friendly match before March," said Mussa.

Last year, the Warriors did not make full use of international friendly dates with Zifa citing financial constraints as the reasons why the senior team was inactive on those official dates.

Zifa indicated that they been in contact with the Malawi Football Association over a possible sparring with the Flames on February 6 although options are still open for the national association to find other opponents. The next dates for Fifa friendlies this year will be on June 4 and August 14.

The Warriors had been also been tipped to engage African Cup of Nations finalists Angola, Nigeria and Niger in pre-tournament warm up games but Zifa could not commit themselves as they needed to chart a way forward first.

But Mussa said the team needed to get ready for their challenges by engaging regional opponents before they resume their campaign this year.

Zimbabwe who had a bad start to the campaign for the 2014 World Cup campaign are set to travel to Egypt in March and then host the Pharaohs in the return match on June 7.

They will then travel to Guinea in the same month before concluding their hunt against neighbours Mozambique at home.

Egypt, notable absentees have already secured three friendly internationals ahead of March's clash with the Warriors as they are set to clash with the Nations Cup bound duo of Ghana and Ivory Coast and Southern American side Chile.

"Time definitely is not on our side in terms of national team assignments. There has to be a team to play in these assignments as soon as possible. This means the coach has to look around at the eligible players from the previous team whom he feels have a role to play and will blend them with the new ones.

"The good thing is that Pagels has been around for a while and has knowledge of the players and an understanding of Zimbabwean football," said Musa.

"But it is something that does not happen overnight to rebuild this Warriors brand and make it vibrant again under the circumstances. Obviously it will take time and with God's grace hopefully it will work out sooner," said Musa.

Currently Zimbabwe's chances of qualifying for next year's World Cup in Brazil are slim as they lie third on the log table with one point, and five behind leaders Egypt.

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