Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THE Warriors will play hosts Cameroon in the opening match of the CHAN 2020 finals after they were drawn in Group A which features West African teams.
Zimbabwe, who are returning to the competition after missing the previous edition in 2018, were picked from the hat first at last night’s draw conducted by Cameroon legends Salomon Olembe and Stephen Tataw at the Palais Polyvalent des Sports de Yaoundé hotel in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde.
The duo was joined on stage by CAF Director of Competitions Samson Adamu for the draw proceedings. The other teams in Group A are Burkina Faso and 2016 finalists Mali. CHAN is reserved exclusively for players plying their trade in home leagues.
And just like last year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt, the Warriors automatically get to feature in the opening match against the Indomitable Lions on April 4.
They will play the Stallions of Burkina Faso in the second game and then conclude their group games against Mali. Mali were finalists in Rwanda in 2016 while Burkina Faso have been to two previous finals in 2014 and 2018.
The 2016 champions DRC, who are the tournament’s most successful team after winning two of the previous five editions, headline Group B which also has neighbours Congo-Brazzaville, Niger and 2014 winners Libya.
Defending champions Morocco are in Group C along with Uganda, debutants Togo and Rwanda. Group D has Tanzania, Namibia, Guinea and Zambia.
The finals tournament will be held from April 4-25 in the cities of Yaounde, Douala and Limbe. Zimbabwe are going to the CHAN finals for the fifth time. They have the most appearances at the finals of the tournament along with Uganda. But the Warriors’ best performance was a fourth place finish in South Africa in 2014.
The Zimbabweans only missed the previous edition held in Morocco after they were stunned by Namibia in a two-legged qualifier. But the Warriors sealed their berth in the 2020 edition after thrashing minnows Mauritius 7-1 and then overcoming a plucky Lesotho 3-1 during the qualifiers. CAF senior official, Adamu, who was one of the officials conducting the draw, said Group A was difficult.
“Group A is quite tough but at the end of the day we would like to see exciting football. We are expecting good challenges and good matches,” said Adamu.
CHAN 2020 draw
Group A: Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Zimbabwe
Group B: Niger, Congo, DR Congo, Libya
Group C: Morocco, Uganda, Togo, Rwanda
Group D: Tanzania, Namibia, Guinea, Zambia