Warriors drawn alongside Nigeria and South Africa in 2026 World Cup qualifiers

Zimbabwe, who contested the Africa Cup of Nations last year, were unable to compete in the 2023 edition
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HARARE – Zimbabwean international football team, popularly known as the Warriors will have to overcome African powerhouse Nigeria and Southern African derby against neighbouring rival South Africa if they are to qualify for the 2026 World Cup in North America.

The 2026 edition of the tournament, to be hosted jointly by Canada, the United States, and Mexico, will have 48 teams, expanded from 32. Africa will have 10 guaranteed spot for the competition.

Warriors have been drawn alongside the Super Eagles, Benin, South Africa, Rwanda, and Lesotho in Group C. The winners of the nine groups will qualify for the tournament, while the best four runners-up will enter a play-off where the best team will go to North America.

Fifa has lifted its suspension of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and has set up a temporary committee to operate the organisation for a year.

The decision of world football’s governing body means that Zimbabwe will be in Wednesday’s draw for the African qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.

Qualifiers will kick off on the first weekend of November.

Group A

Egypt, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Djibouti

Group B

Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritania, Togo, Sudan, South Sudan

Group C

Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Lesotho

Group D

Cameroon, Cape Verde, Angola, Libya, Eswatini, Mauritius

Group E

Zimbabwe was barred by Fifa in February 2022 after the country’s government-appointed Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended Zifa.

Fifa outlaws third-party interference in the running of a football association.

As a result, Zimbabwe was excluded from the qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2024 Women’s Afcon, among other competitions, and Zifa had its Fifa funding frozen.

The reasons for the SRC’s intervention included alleged sexual harassment of female referees by Zifa technical staff as well as allegations of fraud within Zimbabwean football’s governing body.

In September 2022, Fifa suspended former Zifa official Obert Zhoya for five years after adjudging him to have sexually harassed three female referees.

The newly-formed normalisation committee has been mandated to complete its duties by 30 June 2024. It will restructure Zifa, review its statutes and organise elections for a new board.

The committee will also ensure a proper financial handover to the new Zifa board and has been asked to establish a collaboration agreement between the SRC and Zifa to address issues of sexual harassment.