Southern Africa’s World Cup 2022 journey begins

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Tadious Manyepo

Only South Africa and Angola have been to the FIFA World Cup from this part of the world.

With a lot of positive signs in terms of football development in Southern Africa, hopes are high teams from Southern Africa will one day storm the global show piece and even win it.

But, they have to be at their best as most of them begin their journey for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar next week with preliminary rounds before entering the main draw.

It is at this stage that most of the teams from the SADC region fail to negotiate a way through.

Most of the teams from Southern Africa are involved in the 14 games to determine the 14 teams who will join the better ranked 26 countries in the group stages whose matches kick off in March next year.

The 14 winners will have a way through to join the 26 team who will be split into 10 groups of four teams each.

Winners from each group will then participate in a two-legged play-off with the five winners taking their place in the plane to Qatar.

But, for Southern Africa, the long marathon starts as soon as next Wednesday when they play in the first-leg ties of the preliminary round.

Zimbabwe travel to Djibouti for a date against Somalia. Stand-in coach Joey Antipas has left Zimbabwe’s most prized asset, midfielder Marvellous Nakamba who plays for Aston Villa in England from his squad.

Nakamba is still recovering from an injury he picked at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in June.

Antipas has, however, overlooked a number of players who used to be regulars under Sunday Chidzambwa who resigned after the failed AFCON mission.

“We are trying new players who we think can bring results for the team. We are a nation seeking to succeed in the field of play so we had to look for those players who are in top form for this game against Somalia.

“We are anticipating a tough match but we have to do our best to proceed to the next stage. We have qualified for the AFCON several times and we are now eying the World Cup so we cannot afford to experiment. We are going there in full force and hopefully we will get a result,” he said.

While Zimbabwe play Somalia, Namibia will be away to Eritrea with Angola facing off against the Gambia.

Tanzania are up against Burundi, Comoros face Togo while Mozambique and Mauritius will cancel each other.

Botswana and Malawi are also on each other’s path and the better team will advance.

Preliminary Round Fixtures

Ethiopia v Lesotho

Eritrea v Namibia

Somalia v Zimbabwe

Burundi v Tanzania

Botswana v Malawi

Liberia v Sierra Leone

Djibouti v Eswatini

Gambia v Angola

Mauritius v Botswana

Comoros v Togo

Chad v Sudan

Seychelles v Rwanda

South Sudan v Equatorial Guinea

Sao Tome e Principe v Guinea Bissau

 

 

 

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