“First of all we have to appreciate that all the 16 teams did not qualify by chance. They finished on top of their groups and it means we could only anticipate quality opposition.
“So we expected that, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy draw. Worse, considering our ranking and that we were in Pot Four, we had no choice, but to accept anything that came our way,” said Pasuwa.
The Warriors who were represented at the draw by team manager Sharif Mussa were the lowest ranked team among the 16 countries that went into the hat last night as they are 35th in Africa.
Hosts Gabon headlined the draw yesterday in Group A which also has Burkina Faso, former champions Cameroon and the only debutants at the tournament Guinea Bissau.
Group A will play their matches in the capital Libreville while the Warriors will be based in Franceville.
Defending champions Cote d’Ivoire will face Morocco, Togo and 2015 bronze medallists Democratic Republic of Congo while Ghana, Mali, Egypt and Uganda make up Group D.
Despite being placed in the tough group, Mussa sounded bullish after the draw. Mussa said the Warriors needed to prepare well ahead of the tournament, which runs from January 14 to February 5 next year.
Zimbabwe will be based in Franceville, one of the four largest cities in Gabon. The Warriors will compete with in-form players such as the Desert Foxes pair of Riyad Mahrez who won the English championship last season with Leicester City and Islam Slimani.
Mahrez and Slimani are favourites to lead Algeria’s charge on the country’s 18th appearance at the continental football showcase
The Warriors will also have to contend with a star-studded Senegal side that has the likes of Cheikhou Kouyaté of West Ham United in England and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane.Senegal, runners up in 2002, have been on the rise again with a group comprising players dotted around some of Europe’s biggest leagues.
But the Warriors have maintained they will not be in Gabon to make up the numbers.Zimbabwe, who will be making only their third appearance after qualifying in style under Pasuwa, are looking to leave their mark at the tournament despite the prospects of facing challenging opposition.
They have shown a lot of promise with a fine crop of players that include Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, Costa Nhamoinesu, Marvelous Nakamba and captain Willard Katsande.
Pasuwa said their biggest challenge at the moment was to ensure they prepared adequately for the showcase and revealed his wish to play a warm up game against North African opposition before they travel to Gabon.
The former Dynamos coach said they would not be intimidated by the profiles of their Group B opponents.