Tadious Manyepo, Harare Bureau
ZIFA have said they have been assured that the security of the Young Warriors is guaranteed in South Africa where they will take on Amajita on Friday in an Under-23 Afcon qualifier.
Yesterday, the Football Association of Zambian called off the international friendly between Chipolopolo and and Bafana Bafana in Lusaka on Saturday in response the current wave of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
The attacks have targeted foreign immigrants, including some Zambians.
Safa communications director, Dominic Chimhavi, confirmed FAZ had called off the match.
“The game is off. We have just received correspondence from FAZ to that say they cannot undertake this match with the ongoing violence in South Africa‚ and including targeting their own people‚” Chimhavi said.
The match had been scheduled for the National Heroes’ Stadium in Lusaka and would have been the first game for new Bafana head coach, Molefi Ntseki.
Zifa spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, confirmed the Young Warriors will fly to South Africa.
Their match is set for Friday night at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg with the return leg pencilled for Barbourfields on Tuesday next week.
The winners will join seven other teams, including hosts Egypt, for the biannual tournament in November.
The best three finishers at the continental showpiece will book their place at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
But coach Tonderai Ndiraya’s charges will only have time together for hours before they face a South African side which has had some thorough preparations.
Six foreign-based players, named in the team, are flying directly to Johannesburg amid reports some are paying for their flights.
Ndiraya will this morning trim a squad of 24 home-based players to 12 before flying to South Africa where they will have a single training session ahead of the game.
They trained twice yesterday, first playing a training game against Dynamos before an afternoon workout.
“We are just fine-tuning the combinations since we don’t have sufficient time. This is just one of our two training sessions before we depart so we had to do this.
“So far, so good, but the only problem is that we are training without the foreign contingent.
‘‘It wasn’t reasonable to fly them here so they are flying directly to South Africa where we will meet them tomorrow (today) and, hopefully, we will have time to train together.
“But I am seeing some encouraging signs though we haven’t had enough time. We only hope that there won’t be any injuries which can force us to alter our plans,” said Ndiraya.
He said he was happy with his team’s fitness levels.
“We are hoping to capitalise on that. This is also the reason why we included more locally-based players in the squad.
‘‘Those plying their trade overseas have just started their league so, in terms of fitness, they are a little bit behind the local boys.
“We had that in mind when we selected the team and we hope it will work.”
Some of the players who have a chance to make the final team from the local squad include the Herentals duo of Tinotenda Benza and Juan Mutudza, Dynamos’ Emmanuel Jalai, Tawanda Chisi and Nigel Katawa as well as the likes Anelka Chivandire and Clive Rupiya.