Tadious Manyepo in BAFOUSSAM, Cameroon
JUST when they had raised the nation’s hopes, especially after scoring first, the Warriors connived to once again disappoint in this African Cup of Nations defeat to Malawi here yesterday to become the first team to exit the tournament before they are even done with group proceedings.
Even if they are to beat Guinea in Yaoundé next week, the Warriors will only take their tally to three points which will not be sufficient to carry them through to the next round as it is now guaranteed they will finish last in the group.
The Warriors scored through Ishmael Wadi six minutes before the break, but they somehow allowed Malawi two-goal hero Gabadinho Mhango to equalise four minutes later.
Both goals were as a result of mistiming and misjudgement on the part of the defence with Teenage Hadebe at the centre of that atrocious defending.
For a team which the Government went out of its way to keep motivated to lose in such fashion was not only disappointing, but unacceptable.
Yet, the Warriors fluffed several chances to seal it early in the game and they were eventually made to pay dearly.
Like in the first game which they lost 0-1 to Senegal, Zimbabwe looked dull in front of goal, wasting chance-after-chance with Ishmael Wadi, Knowledge Musona, Bruce Kangwa and Gerald Takwara all standing guilty of failing to finish off good moves.
The decision by coach Norman Mapeza to field captain Knowledge Musona and Kundai Benyu who did not train the entire week backfired in a way.
Musona was down with a flue bout while Benyu was nursing an injury after suffering a knock on his tendon on Monday.
While Benyu stood the heat yesterday, Musona looked lost in hot-humid tropical conditions here.
Entrusted with playing the creative role, Musona was nowhere to be found leaving Wadi to overwork in midfield.
Mapeza shuffled his cards well and never really had a chance to sit in the dugout but still his players could not rise to the occasion.
“I am very disappointed because we are now out of the tournament. We created chances but we failed to convert most of them. We played well in the last match and today we started off well too. We could have done better with the chances we created,” Mapeza said.
“We created so many chances, dominated the opposition in statistics and you wonder how we failed to get something out of this match.
“We were all over them but we gave away two soft goals and that was the difference.”
One would feel for the coach who worked so hard during the course of the week trying get his tactics together especially at the front.
He didn’t want to affect his team’s rhythm given the way the squad applied themselves against Senegal and he made just one change to the team which started on Monday.
France-based forward Tino Kadewere replaced Prince Dube in the starting 11 but the Lyon man was left hugely isolated upfront.
Malawi coach Meck Mwase said he knew his charges always had a chance of beating Zimbabwe.
Ernest Kakhobwe, Stanely Sanusi, Denis Chembezi, Chimwemwe Idana (Charles Petro 83 min) Richard Mbulu (Peter Banda 65 min), Fransisco Madinga(Gerald Phiri 83min), Gabadhino Mhango, John Banda, Limbikani Mzava, Gomezgani Chirwa (Chester Yemikani 65 min) Kuda Myaba
Petros Mhari, Takudzwa Chimwemwe, Onismor Bhasera, Gerald Takwara, Teenage Hadebe, Kelvin Madzongwe, Kundai Benyu, Ishmael Wadi (Kuda Mahachi 83 min) Bruce Kangwa (Jordan Zemura 66 min), Knowledge Musona (Admiral Muskwe 77 min) Tino Kadewere