Zimbabwe gear up for Women’s AFCON qualifier

Zimbabwe are among a number of COSAFA sides preparing for the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that will be played later this month, with southern African rivals Botswana standing between them and a place in the finals in Morocco from July 2-23.

Those finals will serve as the qualification tournament for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, so there will be much more than continental bragging rights on offer.

Zimbabwe will host Botswana on February 17, with the return leg five days later. The winner will seal a place at the finals.

A break in the domestic league due to COVID-19 has presented a challenge for coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda, but she is confident she can get her players up to speed.

“The players are responding very well to training. With the days that are remaining, we might not get them to 100% fitness but they will be fit to play the match,” she said.

Zimbabwe have reached the continental finals on four previous occasions, the last in 2016, the same year in which they competed at the Olympic Games.

There will be at least two COSAFA sides in the final field for the women’s AFCON with Zambia and Namibia clashing in another qualifier. One will advance.

South Africa are the other COSAFA nation still in the running as they face a tricky qualifier against Algeria.