Five games, no win, one goal

12 Nov, 2021 - 00:11 0 Views
Five games, no win, one goal Norman Mapeza

The Herald

Tedious Manyepo in JOHANNESBURG

South Africa………………..(1) 1

Zimbabwe……………………0

ZIMBABWE’S nightmarish 2022 World Cup campaign continued last night when the Warriors crashed to their fourth straight defeat in Group G at the FNB Stadium.

It represents a new low for the Warriors who, for the first time in their history, have now lost four World Cup qualifiers on the bounce.

They now find themselves a massive 12 points adrift of leaders Bafana Bafana, who have gone strength to strength, since the two Limpopo rivals opened their group campaign with a goalless draw, at the National Sports Stadium, in September last year.

The South Africans have won their last four matches, in the qualifiers, and now need just a draw, in their final match in Ghana on Sunday, to make the final round of qualifying matches.

It has been a remarkable turnaround for Bafana Bafana, whose football leaders cracked the whip, after their failure to qualify for the 2021 AFCON finals, and brought in experienced coach, Hugo Broos.

Teboho Mokoena, a player whose every day training sessions are conducted by Zimbabwean coach, Kaitano Tembo, at SuperSport United, was the South African hero last night.

He found himself in acres of space, on the back post, in the 26th minute, to direct a free header past goalkeeper Petros Mhari, for the goal which made all the difference.

Keegan Dolly had swung in the ball from the right, after being given all the room he needed to measure his cross, and Mokoena was on hand to direct his header home.

Takudzwa Chimwemwe, who should have been providing cover on that blind side, was nowhere to be seen and the Mokoena took full advantage to plant his header into the back of the net.

Chimwemwe had a disappointing show but he wasn’t the only one who came short, when a lot was expected from him, in a Warriors performance which, even though far from dull, didn’t have the cutting edge.

Since beating Zambia 2-1, in a 2021 AFCON qualifier in Lusaka in November 2019, which somehow resulted in coach Joey Antipas losing his job, the Warriors have won just once, in 17 games.

Zdravko Logarusic, who replaced Antipas in a controversial shake-up of the coaching department, was in charge in that only victory, a 1-0 win over Botswana, in a 2021 AFCON qualifier.

The Croat was sacked, in the wake of a 0-1 loss to Ethiopia, in this World Cup campaign, and his replacement, Norman Mapeza, has now lost three on the bounce.

With just a game to go before the group qualifiers come to an end, the Warriors find themselves three points adrift of Ethiopia, who are above them, and have four points.

The East Africans battled long and hard to force a share of the spoils, in their group match against Ghana, which was also played in Johannesburg.

It’s the kind of determination, which the Warriors were lacking last night, as they succumbed to yet another loss, in what has been a miserable campaign for them.

Mapeza made a number of changes to his squad for this match but while there was some life, in the Warriors, they rarely created enough to trouble their hosts.

The industrious David Moyo played with the right spirit but was largely isolated upfront and, when he was presented with a good opportunity, when through on goal, he decided not to shoot but pass responsibility.

Ishamel Wadi went for placement, when another opportunity came by, but his effort lacked the precision needed for it to hit the target.

“It’s unfortunate the team ended on a losing note but I am proud of my boys. They played so well and we could have scored on two or three occasions but at the end of the day it’s about getting goals,” said Mapeza.

“It was a good match from my boys but we were unfortunate not to have scored on some of those occasions. We are in the right direction as far as rebuilding is concerned.

“We gave an opportunity to an 18-year-old (Bill Antonio), we will continue doing that.

“I am happy with the way we expressed ourselves.

“It’s a game of football and we picked a lot of positives, at the end of the day.”

In the 49th minute, the Warriors thought they had created their best chance of the night when some fine exchanges ended with midfielder Blessing Sarupinda free on the right channel.

However, from very close range, Sarupinda incredibly sent his effort over the crossbar with his embarrassment being only saved by the decision by the referee to rule that he had strayed into an offside position.

At the other end, Mhari was earning his wages with some fine saves, twice being forced to push the ball over the bar, from two Bafana Bafana raids.

The golden chance for the Warriors to get a goal probably came in the 66th minute.

Marvelous Nakamba, playing in a more advanced role, drew the ball from the byline to Khama Billiat but the skipper hesitated to take a crack at goal and decided to pass responsibility to substitute Knox Mutizwa.

And, just like that, the chance was lost.

Mhari then produced a fine fingertip save to direct the ball onto the crossbar, in the dying moments and, as the minutes ticked by, Bafana Bafana appeared content with their slender but priceless win.

Bafana Bafana took their tally to 13 points and, in the worst case scenario, a draw away to Ghana on Sunday will be enough for them to progress to the play-offs.

This was Zimbabwe’s fifth match, without a win, in these qualifiers although to be fair to Mapeza, and his men, they showed some improvement from their previous matches.

Teams

South Africa

Williams, S. Mobbie, N.Ngcobo, R. De Reuck, T. Mashego, T. Phete, T.Mokoena, K.Dolly (M. Mdantsane 90th min), B. Hlongwane, P.Tau (E. Brooks), E. Makgopa (F. Lakay 62nd min)

Zimbabwe

P.Mhari, T.Chimwemwe, B.Galloway, G.Takwara, K.Madzongwe, M.Nakamba (F. Madhananga 84th min), B.Sarupinda (K.Mahachi 55th min) B.Kangwa, I.Wadi,K.Billiat (B. Antonio 84th min) D.Moyo (K.Mutizwa 59th min)

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