Zimbabwe Faces Tough Road in 2025 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

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Zimbabwe drops to 129th in FIFA rankings after defeats.
Warriors placed in Pot 4 for 2025 AFCON qualifiers.
Potential tough AFCON group includes Morocco and Libya.
Qualifying series starts September; Zimbabwe aims for redemption.

Plummeting FIFA Rankings

Zimbabwe’s national football team, the Warriors, have found themselves in a challenging position following a series of disappointing performances. The latest FIFA rankings reveal a sharp decline for Zimbabwe, falling seven places to 129th globally and 38th in Africa. This drop comes in the wake of two disheartening defeats: a 2-0 loss to Lesotho and a 3-1 defeat to South Africa during the World Cup qualifiers.

Impact of Recent Defeats

The losses against Lesotho and South Africa have had a significant impact on Zimbabwe’s standing. In their match against Lesotho, Zimbabwe failed to find the net while conceding two goals, showcasing weaknesses in both their defense and attack. The subsequent match against South Africa saw a similar trend, with the Warriors unable to keep pace, resulting in a 3-1 defeat. These performances have not only affected morale but also their position in the FIFA rankings, pushing them perilously close to their worst-ever ranking of 131 set in 2016.

Consequences for AFCON Draw

Zimbabwe’s tumble in the rankings means they are now placed in Pot 4 for the upcoming 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying draw. Pot 4 is reserved for the lowest-ranked teams, positioning Zimbabwe alongside minnows like Burundi, Eswatini, Chad, and South Sudan. This placement spells potential trouble for the Warriors as they could face off against some of the continent’s strongest teams from Pots 1-3.

Pot 1: Top African Teams

  • Morocco, Senegal, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Tunisia, Algeria, Cameroon, Mali, South Africa, DR Congo, Ghana.

Pot 2: Strong Contenders

  • Cape Verde, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Zambia, Benin, Angola, Uganda, Namibia, Mozambique, Madagascar.

Pot 3: Emerging Teams

  • Kenya, Mauritania, Congo, Tanzania, Guinea Bissau, Libya, Comoros, Togo, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Central African Republic.

Pot 4: Lower-Ranked Teams

  • Niger, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Gambia, Burundi, Liberia, Ethiopia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, South Sudan, Chad.

Challenging Group Scenarios

Being in Pot 4 raises the likelihood of Zimbabwe facing a daunting group stage in the AFCON qualifiers. A worst-case scenario could see them drawn against the likes of Morocco from Pot 1, Equatorial Guinea from Pot 2, and Libya from Pot 3. Such a group would pose significant challenges for the Warriors, making their path to the AFCON finals exceedingly difficult.

Return to AFCON Qualifiers

This draw marks Zimbabwe’s return to the AFCON qualifiers after missing the previous edition due to a FIFA ban. The Warriors last competed in the 2021 AFCON finals, and they now seek redemption and a chance to prove themselves on the continental stage. The group stage draw, scheduled for July 4 at the SuperSport studios in Johannesburg, South Africa, will determine their path.

Qualification Format

The 48 national teams will be drawn into 12 groups of four teams each. The top two teams from each group will qualify directly for the AFCON finals. The preliminary stage winners—Chad, Eswatini, Liberia, and South Sudan—will join the 44 highest-ranked nations for this draw.

Upcoming Matches

The qualification series will commence with the first two matches during the FIFA window from September 2 to 10. This will be followed by two more matches in October (7 to 15), and the final two games in November (11 to 19). These matches will be crucial for Zimbabwe as they aim to navigate their way through a potentially tough group and secure a spot in the 2025 AFCON finals.

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