Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambwa was satisfied with the point his charges gained on the road and believes his side will get stronger as the AFCON campaign gathers momentum.
The Warriors emerged with a crucial point from their assignment against Congo at the Stade Alphonse Massemba Debat in Brazzaville following a 1-1 draw with the hosts.
Khama Billiat scored the Warriors goal. As his team prepared to leave Congo for their flight home, via a night stopover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia yesterday, Chidzambwa told The Herald from Brazzaville of his reflections on the match.
“I think the guys played well in the first half and in my view that performance deserved at least, two or more goals, but we couldn’t take all our chances,” he said.
“Those missed opportunities gave them a chance to come back. “In the second half they seized control of the midfield up until we introduced Tafadzwa Kutinyu (for Kuda Mahachi) and we improved and matched them again.
“We had another brilliant chance to score again with Knowledge, (Musona) but those things happen in football.
“But, overall, I think the guys tried their best, they were complaining that the artificial pitch was slowing the ball and they also complained of pain in the ankles.”
The veteran coach said he told his players, including Nations Cup debutants such as Wales-based centre back Alec Mudimu and Orlando Pirates’ Marshal Munetsi, to be prepared to play in any conditions.
“Although the players were complaining about the artificial turf we will get a chance to give the Congolese a good run on natural grass when they come to Harare.
“I told the guys that they need to get used to such conditions and such kind of games because that is what we will find in some parts of Africa.
“We have a very good squad and considering that we were also missing some key players because of injuries, I think we are on track,” Chidzambwa said.
Chidzambwa is hopeful that some of those sidelined by injuries would have recovered in time for the Warriors back-to-back assignments against DRC in Kinshasa on October 10 and at the National Sports Stadium on October 13.
The 66-year-old coach said he would convene a technical meeting on return home this week to ensure they have early preparations for the crunch clashes against DRC.
Chidzambwa said he was also surprised by the outcome of Liberia’s match against DRC in Monrovia.
“To me it was a surprise result. Who would have thought that Liberia could draw with DRC? It just shows that teams are improving in Africa and you cannot afford to underestimate any side anymore.
“There were so many surprise results across Africa this weekend. Comoros holding Cameroon, Madagascar drawing with Senegal, Kenya beating Ghana, Namibia drawing against Zambia, Mauritania beating Burkina Faso.
“I think we should start to prepare our team early and start by assessing the injured ones and checking who is going to be available and who hasn’t recovered before we name the team that will travel to DRC,” Chidzambwa said.
Goalkeeper George Chigova was happy with the manner in which the Warriors went about their business.
“A draw is better away, but we could have won that match. I think it was a game of two halves really and in the first half we had them under pressure, we controlled the game well and I am sure if we could have managed to get the second goal before half-time, it was going to be difficult for them to come back.
“In the second half they never gave us much time on the ball and they put us under pressure, but even though we conceded an early goal in the second half, I thought we managed to control the game and they never really threatened us that much in that second half.
“I think their midfield must not be allowed to have more numbers like what happened for some parts of the second half, but we are very happy with the way things are going for us.”
It was the first time that the big Polokwane City goalkeeper had been breached in this Nations Cup campaign after keeping a clean sheet in the 3-0 demolition of Liberia at the National Sports Stadium in the opening game in June last year.
The top two teams from each of the groups will automatically qualify for the Nations Cup jamboree being scheduled for Cameroon in June next year.