Lawrence Moyo in BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa
WARRIORS coach Ian Gorowa has no time for prophets in football and is disappointed that the leader of the Faith in God Eagle Life Assembly in Bulawayo is partly blaming him for the penalty shoot-out exit in Wednesday’s semi-final against Libya. The Warriors lost 4-5 in sudden death despite goalkeeper George Chigova making successive saves to keep Zimbabwe in the game.
Prophet Blessing Chiza had predicted a 3-0 win for the Warriors on the eve of the match but was forced to admit he “didn’t see well”.
Putting his head on the bloc, Chiza even told football followers that midfielder Peter “Rio” Moyo would score twice in the 3-0 win.
When time for reality came, the Highlanders midfielder blazed his penalty over the bar during the shootout.
Gorowa said he was aware of the story.
“I heard that story but people always talk. This has nothing to do with football I think, listen, there are things that have to be with football and those that have nothing to do with football,” said Gorowa.
“I don’t believe in that, if we take our chances we take our chances. Penalties, we didn’t take them well. So it’s something I choose to ignore.”
The former Black Rhinos, Dynamos and Ajax Cape Town striker said he wasn’t worried that Chiza was communicating with six Warriors players.
“I was communicating with some players who appreciated my prayers and support. I’m still convinced the Warriors were supposed to win that match,” Chiza told The Chronicle.
Gorowa says it is something he had no problems with and will not attempt to stop.
“These players are mostly from Highlanders so he has been in touch with them. I think he was the one who prays for them, you cannot stop that,” said Gorowa.
“So, they continue doing that, which is good for them.
“If he was doing it for the best of the country, if he was helping the players, then that’s good, I don’t see any problem with that.”
However, Chiza appeared to blame Gorowa for the Warriors’ exit.
“I told the coach that we had to walk together for them to win the match but he was not forthcoming.
“It was of paramount importance for me to talk to him and give him a few instructions, such as making sure that no player enters the stadium with juju,” Chiza told The Chronicle.
Gorowa took exception to that:
“Then he must be the coach . . . if he said that it’s rather unfortunate, it’s very unfortunate.”
Looking back to Wednesday’s game, Gorowa said they were victims of their own shortcomings in the final third of the pitch as they dominated enough to win the game in regulation time.
The Warriors coaches actually knew what to expect from Libya.
“We had to win, we knew they were going to defend, we had planned to play in a certain way and I think the boys tried but obviously different circumstances, different conditions of the pitch as well but you can’t always make those excuses and I thought in the final third that’s where we lacked again, a bit.
“So, if you don’t score, you don’t win matches.”
Having played all their previous matches at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, the Free State Stadium was new to the Warriors and the showers during the game also unsettled the players somewhat.
Gorowa introduced Donald Ngoma and Simba Sithole in the second half in place of How Mine’s Simba Sithole and Masimba Mambare.
“It was for us to have more players upfront, more strikers upfront so that we can create more chances with more bodies upfront but it was never to be.”
Explaining why he didn’t make the third substitution, Gorowa said:
“At that there was nothing more, if I look at the bench, who could have done? We could have thrown anybody but to me it didn’t make a difference.
“I think at that moment we were still okay, we tried to push and that was it.”
There had been speculation that the coaches were reserving the third slot to reserve goalkeeper, Tafadzwa Dube, who is renowned for saving spot kicks.
Following misses by three left-footed takers, there were concerns that the coaches had relied too much on players who are not good with penalties.
Gorowa said they had practiced penalties at training and let the players decide on the line-up of takers on Wednesday.
“They chose the takers themselves because we have been practicing and they chose themselves,” said Gorowa.
He is not treating the third-place play off against Nigeria as dead rubber and will go all out for victory against a Nigeria side still coming to terms with not reaching the final.
As such, Gorowa will not throw in all the players who have not had game time for the sake of giving everyone a run at the tournament.
There are seven players who have NOT been in the starting line up for the Warriors at the CHAN finals and four of them are yet to kick the ball.
Goalkeepers Tafadzwa Dube and Munyaradzi Diya, Augustine Mbara and Themba Ndlovu have NOT featured in the tournament — even for a second!
Oscar Machapa and Felix Chindungwe were late substitutes once each while Nelson Maziwisa featured as a sub on three occasions.
“We have to balance the two. I have just spoken to the players and we have to balance between us giving those who have not been playing and winning the game.
“So that means we have to put our best players. We will try as much as we can to give the other guys a chance but also you don’t sacrifice that for winning.
“We want to win, finish this tournament in style. Playing Nigeria is never easy I’m sure they also want to win.
“So you cannot sacrifice winning because you want to give everyone a run. If you have to put the same team again you have to because you have to win. But we will see, I said to some of them I will give them a run,” said Gorowa. The Warriors returned to Cape Town last night.