On 1 September, FIFA CAF’s World Cup qualifying matches will continue after lengthy delays. Though the continent’s top teams, such as Egypt and Nigeria, qualified for an appearance in the third (and final) round of CAF qualifiers, the Zimbabwe Warriors first need to clear their second round of knockouts.
At the moment, the Warriors are undergoing summer training in preparation for the September start when they’ll face South Africa first. Also in Group G are the Ghana Black Stars and the Ethiopia Walias, with the Black Stars heading to the third round automatically based on their FIFA World Ranking.
The World Cup will be watched by hundreds of millions of football fans worldwide. But the tournament also draws in huge numbers from sportsbooks that offer a range of bets on teams, players, and groups for every stage of the competition.
With only 32 teams advancing to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, many punters will be backing a surrogate team. Those new to moneylines and point spreads can take advantage of free bet no deposit offers from leading sportsbooks. Others may prefer to create a fantasy World Cup tournament with a group of friends, similar to McDonald’s FIFA World Cup Fantasy that was launched in 2018.
But what local football fans want more than anything is an appearance at a FIFA World Cup. The team has either failed to pass through CAF qualifiers or failed to enter the competition at all in the past. In the case of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the team was expelled from qualifiers for a failure to make a payment to FIFA.
The disqualification was heartbreaking for football fans, as it didn’t stem from a lack of skill, hard work, or quality play. The Warriors will be doing everything in their power to advance to the World Cup group stages—but will it be enough?
The Warriors in CAF
Though the Warriors have yet to make it to a global stage, they have a strong record in other CAF competitions. The team has won the Africa Cup of Nations title five times, as well as the COSAFA Cup a record six times. In fact, the team was on a streak of Cup of Nations appearances at the time of their 2018 World Cup expulsion.
However, it seems the Warriors will be able to keep that momentum going into the second round of CAF qualifiers. There’s been a change of head coach from Brazilian José Claudinei to Croatian manager Zdravko Logarušić, who has experience coaching on four continents.
Logarušić is arranging his Warriors squad in preparation for the early September faceoffs in Group G. With Ghana, South Africa, and Ethiopia as competition, the Warriors will need to rely on strikers like Tino Kadewere of Ligue 1 and star Knox Mutizwa of the Lamontville Golden Arrows.
The Black Stars & Bafana Bafana in the Second Round
The Warriors’ strongest competitors in Group G are the Ghana Black Stars and the South African Bafana Bafana. The Black Stars are one of the most elite football national teams in the continent, regularly competing with elite teams like the Nigerian and Egyptian national squads.
Ghana has appeared in three FIFA World Cups, advancing to the quarter-finals in the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa. They’ve also made 23 appearances in the Africa Cup of Nations and have nabbed the African Nations Championship runners-up position twice.
As Ghana automatically qualifies to advance to the third round, the Warriors will need to capitalize on opportunities and protect their own goal in order to nab more points. Additionally, the Bafana Bafana have made three FIFA World Cup appearances. In 1998, 2002, and 2010, they advanced to the group stage.
They’ll be looking to squash that record in Qatar in 2022, especially with head coach Molefi Ntseki more motivated than ever following the team’s failure to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
Previously, the Ntseki-led South African side managed to defeat Egypt in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. The Warriors and Logarušić will be looking to use a lull in momentum against South Africa, who will be the team’s first opponent in the September 1-4 matches.