Thank you Warriors

WARRIORS GO TOPCharles Mabika Special Correspondent
THANK you so much dear Warriors for the unforgettable show on Monday. After a somewhat sluggish performance in the first leg at Somhlolo Stadium, in that dour 1-1 draw on Good Friday, not many fans fancied you for an improvement in the return leg. But, good gosh, you just turned on the power to eventually tear Sihlangu (“The Shield”) apart at the National Sports Stadium.

I bet all of you must certainly have been touched and rejuvenated by the massive crowd who, will, forever maintain faith in you in good and bad times.

And yet, when the match kicked off, you seemed, once again to lack the finishing zeal over a spirited Swazi side who just refused to succumb in the opening half, with their ‘keeper, Nhlanhla Gwebu, in inspiring form.

And, oh, goodness me, weren’t we all relieved, when Comoros referee Ali Mohamed rightly ruled Njabulo Ndlovu’s explosive header which beat Tatenda Mukuruva from a curling free-kick offside after 24 minutes?

I shudder to think what would have happened if Ndlovu had timed his run a second later . . . because the visitors had so bravely withstood your relentless pressure and were successfully mounting rare yet effective counter raids in that first stanza.

As the match headed for half-time, impatience and worry gradually enveloped everyone in the stands (including me in the commentary box!) as we painstakingly followed the proceedings.

And, oh yes, the usual prophets of doom in and outside the stadium were mockingly getting ready to inscribe the epitaphs on your tombstones. Some of them were still blasting the “ineffective decisions” by head coach Callisto “Manabhun” Pasuwa and his technical team to make five drastic changes to the side that drew 1-1 in the first leg.

Then a glimmer of hope surfaced on the horizon towards the end of that nervous first half, as the industrious Knowledge Musona pulled the trigger from way outside the penalty box to force a tremendous save from Gwebu, who parried the ball back into play.

As the teams trooped to the tunnel for the break, those critics were sharpening their swords, ready to make the final plunge into the heartbeats of the faithful followers of the nation’s No. 1 team’s demise in the second half.

What did Pasuwa tell his men during that 15-minute break? We are still wondering because the yellow-shirted ensemble that emerged from that tunnel with Khama Billiat replacing Marshal Mudehwe at the interval, was seemingly not the same outfit that we had watched in the first period.

Immediately after resumption, everything just clicked into place as all of you kick-started your batteries in cohesion, with the gliding Musona and effervescent Costa Nhamoinesu, leading the orchestra with refined aplomb.

The mere sight of Billiat must have sent tremors down the spine of the Swazis because every time he gained possession, he was being hacked down or pulled back illegally.

And, oh, yes that tower of strength and charisma from central defence — Nhamoinesu — was adventurous as he joined in the methodical co-ordination as the complexion of the game changed.

What we all had been waiting for, arrived in the 52nd minutes after Kuda Mahachi had been set up beautifully by Marvelous Nakamba and the former was upended in the penalty box and Mohamed briskly awarded a penalty.

Up stepped “The Smiling Assassin” to take the spot kick. Boy, oh, boy, most of us will savour this moment forever as he cheekily lobbed the ball into the net, with Gwebu going sideways . . . this type of penalty is known as a “Panenka” worldwide, so named after former Czech international footballer, Antonin Panenka, who first scored this kind of a spot kick back in the 1976 European Championship final against West Germany (the Czechs went on to triumph 5-3 on penalties after a 2-2 stalemate, with Panenka delivering the winning shoot-out kick with the now-historical effort).

If the Czech superstar had been inside the National Sports Stadium on Monday, he surely would have been there up from his seat, joining us, in ululation and hand-clapping applause. It was indeed, a sublime and daring classic from a Zimbabwean entertainer par-excellence.

The great George Shaya passed to his Dynamos team-mate, Kuda Muchemeyi, from the penalty spot for the latter to beat Rio Tinto’s ‘keeper, Raphael Phiri way back in 1979 at Gwanzura (long before Barcelona’s Lionel Messi did likewise in partnership with Luis Suarez last month) and Musona’s glamorous masterpiece only cemented the fact that our own players also have the capability and know-how to equal any football artists anywhere in the world, didn’t it?

Musona’s priceless effort was also special because it came at a time when every Zimbabwean in that giant stadium was beginning to wonder whether the Swazis would ever crack.

Of course, after that goal, the floodgates then opened with further goals from Nhamoinesu (what a climb to head that one in!), Rusike and Billiat drilling the final nail into the Swazi coffin.

Although Nhamoinesu and Musona stood out for the team, every other Warrior deserves our congratulations for making us believe yet once again, that we are still in with a commanding opportunity of competing with Africa’s finest, come January 2017 in Gabon.Thanks “Mana” for that master-stroke ingenuity of whatever you said at half-time to the troops and the mercurial substitutions which turned the game on its head.

And hey, you Warriors, we might be jumping the gun here but please allow us to say this: “Good morning Gabon!”

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  • Significant Watemwa

    While we may celebrate Musona’s Panenka, we also ought to be talking about his wastefulness in front of goal. There were times he ought to have passed to either mahachi or Mushekwi. many times and those would have been clear goals. Have a rerun and look for these things. Is he being overly selfish. We should have carried a comfortable lead into the second half. Coaches should not just look at the victory but also talk about such things because had we lost or drawn everybody would have been shouting for his head. And against top African teams where chances are few and far between we do not stand a chance. An analysis of the game must be carried out if we are to entertain chances of qualifying. Just like when Pasuwa had been warned about the long ball over the defenders after playing against Morocco where everybody was praising them for losing 2-1 yet nobody saw the clear 15 goals that morocco would have scored. Did it not become a case of ‘I told you so’ when we went to CHAN and came out with nothing but a tail between our legs. Those long balls over the defenders heads we cant deal with, as if not enough, Swaziland punished us in the first game and almost did the same in the second. Zambia, Uganda and Mali punished us the same way during chan. Yes we won but you have to sit down with this guy Musona about missed chances. And what exactly was Evans trying to do with the ball that ended up in a goal when he should simply have returned it to Mahachi. Of cause he was ball watching and his goal was a mistake. He had lost the ball and the defender should have let it go rather than keep it in play. Talk about these things, Pasuwa do not keep quiet about it. Next time you won’t be so lucky, and again we will say we told you so.

    • True Makepekepe

      Unoona bhora iwe mufesi…problem is that when we win we turn a blind eye to our shortcomings. That performance was not polished, its only that we won against a team that really did not come to the party.
      Onismor Bhasera is slow at the leftback and that needs to be rectified pronto. In the first half we were second to the ball. You are right when you say Musona was a bit selfish. Mahachi is no longer the same Mahachi that we used to know. Somebody needs to tell Mahachi to release the ball early.
      On a positive note; the goalie, Costa, Khama, Nakamba put up a decent show. The coaches need not be flattered with the big score line, lets work on our shortfalls. Don’t fool yourselves Guinea are still in it and they proved they can beat us anytime when they are home. We therefore need to be thorough against Malawi and play very well in Guinea. The group is not yet decided unless we put decent performance in the upcoming matches then we might be surprised!

      • hunzi007

        Comment yako yakasimba but i think in today football coaches appreciates a player with a heart to take defenders, delay his touch and shoots at goal. This technique opens up defence by destabilising the back 3/4 ie it is recommended the defenders in the line of defence maintain a clear straight line parallel to the goal line if this line is destabilished like a zigsaw line it creats what they call pockets or channels in which other supporting attackers can leapfrog the defence and gives that attacker clear point at goal to shoot. Musona played so well by delaying his touch and what other attckers should do is to support him by moving in positions that gives him options to pass. Are you at times worried at coaches who clap their hands in appreciation of players who shoot on or off target. It is the heart in the player they will appreciate.

    • hunzi007

      Thank you for good analysis one of which is failure of defenders to deal with long balls crossed in the 18th box but what l can attribute this shortfall was Pasuwa having futile ideas especially in the first game in Swaziland. He was too attack oriented thus over elaborating on attack and attack. He used Musona, Rusike, Billiat and Malajila as starting 11, tell me to me these are attack minded midfielders with limited defensive asernal in an away game. He lost his defensive balance creating a big hole just infront of the back 3/4 where SD could launch. There was absolute no reason of undermining this SD team to that far in their backyard. This was suicidal and any coach knows without the MSN type of attackers who force opposing mid and defence players to play deep you cant over commit like this. It is infalliable truth Pasuwa tech ability was exposed. He even failed to command the defensive unit even at home, the players were so lost. What the hell on earth can he start with a youngester Mudehwe in a game of this magnitude. Pasuwa does not protect young players he exposes them to famble and this destroys talent.

  • hunzi007

    Me as well i did not see anything wrong Musona did on the day. He played a good game and what i like about him is responsibility he takes on his shoulders. He has the passion and desire to win, i can bet with my last cent some of our players could not have taken that penalty.