SAME OLD STORY FOR WARRIORS AERODYNAMICS . . . Zimbabwe players (in white) seek to clear a high ball in their goal area during last night’s match against South Africa. — Picture by kick-off.com

Tadious Manyepo in BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa

South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(1) 3

Zimbabwe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 1

IT’S the same old sad tale. The same old mistakes. 

The same toothlessness. 

The same hopelessness. The same nightmare. The same submissiveness. 

After a promising first half, the Warriors capitulated in the second to surrender to this defeat in a 2026 World Cup qualifier at Free State Stadium last night.

It was a game the Zimbabweans needed to pick at least a point to remain in the picture for a place in Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America in two years. 

Sitting at the foot of Group C with just two points in three games, Jairos Tapera’s men knew they had to put in the shift to cut the gap between them and the leading pack. 

But they were not up to the task, substituting Thapelo Morena’s second-half brace and Iqraam Rayners’ opening minute strike doing the damage. 

Tawanda Chirewa scored the consolation for Zimbabwe immediately after Rayners’ goal and for once it looked like the Warriors would walk out of a sold-out 46,000-seater facility with something. 

The guests indeed had a chance although they mostly sat back and occasionally caught their hosts with quick transitional play. 

Twice, they sniffed at the Bafana Bafana goal but they lacked the sharpness in the offensive third. 

With striker Douglas Mapfumo subbed off at half-time due to an injury, his replacement Daniel Msendami was clueless and failed to hold up play as the Polokwane City man had done. 

And the team always looked vulnerable as they sat too deep as if to protect the point that looked attainable until things went upside down. 

The Warriors are slowly building a bad reputation for conceding goals from casual mistakes as they did with less than a minute played. 

Munashe Garan’anga, one of the six new faces on Tapera’s First XI from the team that lost 2-0 to Lesotho last Friday made a mess of himself and lost the ball to Rayners who beat Geoffrey Chitsumba from close range with hardly a minute on the clock. 

That didn’t deflate the Warriors though as they instantly hit back with Chirewa bullying the South African defence before poking home the equaliser to draw the match back to Zero. But nine minutes after the restart Chitsumba failed to cut a low cross from the left leaving a loitering Morena to tap home into an empty net. 

With Zimbabwe throwing everything up front, they were caught off guard by a defence-splitting pass that Morena fully capitalised on to put the game beyond the visitors. 

The Warriors did fashion out some good chances of their own with Walter Musona’s free-kick in the opening phase and Chirewa’s speculative curler failing to beat South Africa’s skipper Ronwen Williams and going wide. 

There are still six games to play in the group but it’s not looking good for the Warriors who anchor the table with just two points from four games. 

The next round of games will only be played in March next year and one hopes that there would be a full ZIFA executive in the office rather than the clueless Lincoln Mutasa-led ZIFA Normalisation Committee, which chooses players for coaches. 

Tapera was thrown in the deep end by the ZIFA NC, being appointed the interim coach well after they had picked the squad for the two games against Lesotho and South Africa. The players just didn’t do enough. 

And their coach was left a disappointed man. 

“It’s always disappointing losing in such a manner,” said Tapera. 

“We made silly blunders at the back and we were punished. That’s the nature of the game but it is painful, especially after losing two games due to errors at the back.” 

Games between the two countries are always charged and towards the end, there was some clowns evading stewards and invading the pitch.

Teams:

South Africa: Ronwen Williams, Mothobi Mvala, Siyabonga Ngezana, Khuliso Mudau, Aubrey Modiba, Siphephelo Sithole, Teboho Mokoena, Themba Zwane, Oswin Appollis (Relebohile Mofokeng 90min), Elias Mokwana (Thapelo Morena 46min), Iqraam Rayners

Zimbabwe: Geoffrey Chitsumba, Godknows Murwira, Gerald Takwara, Munashe Garan’anga, Divine Lunga, Walter Musona (Tymon Machope 89min), Richard Hachiro, Andy Rinomhota (Jordan Zemura 89min), Marshal Munetsi, Douglas Mapfumo (Daniel Msendami 46min), Tawanda Chirewa (Tawanda Maswanhise 90min)

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