THE Warriors cracked under the weight of expectations to lose 5-4 in a dramatic penalty shoot against Namibia and crash out of the African Nations Championship for the first time at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
By Tafadzwa Ndiraire
The Warriors were left with all to do after they were beaten 1-0 in the first leg in Windhoek, Namibia two weeks back. And on Sunday they needed to win by two clear goals.
After a nervy start in which the visitors dominated the first 20 minutes, Prince Dube gave Sunday Chidzambwa’s men hope at the stroke of the first half, breaching the Namibia defence before beating Namibia goalkeeper Loyd Kazapua hope with a low shot.
In the second half, the Warriors missing several players due to forced changes including skipper Ocean Mushure and star forward Talent Chawapiwa poured forward in search of the goal that could have taken them to the final qualifying round.
However, it proved stubbornly elusive and ultimately it ended all square at 1-1 on aggregate which meant the match proceeded to the dreaded penalty shoot out.
Warriors goalkeeper Herbert Rusawo, a regular penalty taker at his club- Black Rhinos shot meekly at goal and it was saved by the Namibia goalkeeper which proved costly for the hosts as Devon Chafa, Milton Ncube, Praise Tonha and stand in captain Dennis Dauda had done well to convert their spot kicks.
Namibia converted all their spot kicks through Petrus Chitembi, that man, Hendrick Somaeb, scorer of the only goal in the first leg, Dynamo Fredricks, Tiberius Lombard and Immanuel Heita.
Chidzambwa said despite the defeat, his charges played very well considering the forced changes to his squad. “I thought we played reasonably well considering that we had forced changes. We had Ocean Mushure and Gerald Takwara who were injured and Talent Chawapiwa who went to his new home in South Africa. We also didn’t have much time to prepare for this game. We just had Friday to train as full squad and in these tournaments you need more time to prepare. Our opponents have been in camp for a very long time. We also only had just two players who played at the Cosafa tournament,” said Chidzambwa.
His counter part Ricardo Maneti was happy to sail through to the next round but counted himself lucky to overcome Zimbabwe. “In my prematch, I said we expect Zimbabwe to come at us like they did in the first leg. And they came at us but we were prepared. After they scored the goal I told the players, not to drop their heads and stick to the game plan. It’s not everyday that you beat a strong team like Zimbabwe,” he said.
Teams: H Rusawo, D Dauda, J Dzingai, H Moyo, (D Lunga 68 )P Tonha, D Chafa, S Munawa, R Chitiyo, M Mudehwe, ( M Ncube 90), A Amidu,(L Mavhunga 5), P Dube K Lo