Tuesday Nov 14, 2023. 17:18
With Zimbabwe returning to competitive football this week, the Warriors will travel to the Huye Stadium this week, as they prepare to take on Rwanda in their first Group C 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Wednesday afternoon.
Kick-off is at 3:00pm (SA, GMT+2)
Rwanda and Zimbabwe have been pitted alongside Benin, Lesotho, Nigeria and South Africa in what is deemed to be one of the toughest groups in the upcoming African World Cup qualifiers.
Fondly known as the Amavubi Wasps, Rwanda are yet to win a single match this year, picking up three losses and two stalemates in all competitions since March. Also, Rwanda are winless in their last seven matches on home soil and will be keen to get back to winning ways at the Huye Stadium.
Both sides missed out on a place in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament as they shift their attention on qualification for the next major international tournament.
Speaking ahead of the game, Spittler feels that he and his technical team could not rely on past information in preparation for the tie, given Zimbabwe’s lengthy FIFA ban.
“Zimbabwe was banned by FIFA for a year or so and they have been inactive so current information on them ahead of the game is less,” Spittler said.
“We cannot rely on their past information because that will be very wrong. They are back from suspension and they are now regrouping, so, we actually do not know the nature of their team as well as their level.”
As for Zimbabwe, the Warriors are now able to compete and take part in the African qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup after the World Football Governing body lifted their 18-month suspension in July.
FIFA suspended Zimbabwe in February in 2022 over governmental interference in the nation’s football associations.
At the time, the Zimbabwe Football Federation denied the allegations but were eventually suspended and were not permitted to take part in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations and also, the women’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
However, Zimbabwe returned to the pitch on the 30th of September for the first time after their FIFA ban, recording a 1-1 draw against Botswana in a friendly encounter at the Botswana National Stadium.
Reflecting on the upcoming game, Zimbabwe coach Baltermar Brito mentioned that he is looking forward to the rebuild of the Warriors national football team.
“We believe in these 23 [players], they are the best that we could count,” Brito said.
“First of all we should understand that we are starting a new process, we the technical staff, the coaches, the players are making a big effort.
“After this ban, some of the players are meeting for the first time. So, we need time to create connections but this doesn’t mean we come here without expectations.
“Our targets here is to represent Zimbabwe well, to make a picture of what the Zimbabwean citizens like to see and to try and win and collect points. Also. to try and create a new mentality and a new beginning for Zimbabwean football.”