Warriors bow out of AFCON with pride

19 Jan, 2022 - 00:01 0 Views
Warriors bow out of AFCON with pride TIME TO DANCE . . . Warriors skipper Knowledge Musona (second from left) is joined by teammates to celebrate one of the goals in yesterday’s win over Guinea in an AFCON Group B match at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Cameroon last night

The Herald

Tadious Manyepo in YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon

Zimbabwe………………………………(2)2

Guinea……………………………………(0)1

A FLAWLESS first half showing ensured the Warriors bow out of the Africa Cup of Nations with some dignity after they beat Guinea in their final group match at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium yesterday.

Captain Knowledge Musona who could call time on his Warriors career anytime from now opened he scoring for Zimbabwe with Kuda Mahachi sealing the victory two minutes before the break.

Liverpool star Naby Keita got the consolation for Guinea four minutes into the second half to ensure a nervy end to the encounter.

This is Zimbabwe’s first win in the Africa Cup of Nations since that 2-1 group stages win over Ghana in Egypt back in 2006.

Their only other win in this tournament which they have failed to advance to the knock-out stages came in their maiden appearance in a group game against Algeria in 2004.

That match also ended 2-1 in Zimbabwe’s favour.

And after flattering only to deceive in their first two matches, which they lost to Senegal and Malawi, the two games which condemned them to an early exit for this competition, the Warriors applied themselves well in the opening half and duly delivered.

Coach Norman Mapeza, who until yesterday had been ignoring loud calls to start young Jordan Zemura and Kuda Mahachi made eight changes to the team that was embarrassed by Malawi including starting the duo.

With Teenage Hadebe and Kelvin Madzongwe suspended for yesterday’s match, Peter Muduwa and Thabani Kamusoko came in their places respectively.

With nothing to lose, the team dominated the early exchanges with Zemura, Mahachi and Never Tigere on top of their game.

But, like they have done in the first two games the Warriors struggled to make meaningful forays upfront and it looked like they were dishing the same script.

However, far from his best and later forced out due to an injury, Musona made sure the Warriors took the lead when he planted a firm free header to the back of the net after benefiting from a perfect cross by Tigere.

From then, Zimbabwe enjoyed the majority of the ball, creating plenty of chances as their more fancied opponents ran around perplexed.

Then Mahachi, as he has always done when given a chance to play, unleashed a grasscutter from just outside the box which Guinea goalkeeper Ali Keita could only help into the net.

Mapeza introduced more men at the back at the interval withdrawing Musona, who besides scoring didn’t have much impact in the game as the FC Platinum gaffer sought to stabilise the game.

Once he switched to the ultra-defensive mode, Guinea took the initiative and started to dictate the pace.

With Keita reducing the deficit the West Africans made it very difficult for the Warriors to play.

However the Warriors stood their ground, neutralising the marauding Guineans and the game management this time around was a little bit better.

Mapeza praised his charges after the match.

“We thought we deserved to pick at least a point from the first two games against Senegal and Malawi. But we wasted a lot of chances in those matches. However, I am proud of my boys. They played so well in this match,” said Mapeza.

“Guinea is a good team and playing and winning against them is a big achievement.

“We are already out of the tournament but the boys were playing for the nation’s pride and I am happy.”

This match was an historic one after Rwandese referee Salima Mukansanga became the first female to officiate at this jamboree since ita inauguration in 1957.

Teams

Zimbabwe: T Shumba, G Murwira, B Kangwa, G Takwara, P Muduwa, T Kamusoko, J Zemura (T Kadewere 74 min), K Mahachi (T Chimwemwe 88 min), A Muskwe (P Dube 74 min), K Musona (O Bhasera 46 min), N Tigere.

Guinea: A Keita, I Sylla (M Konate 88 min), I Conte, I Cisse, N Keita, M Kante (M Diallo 46 min), M Camara, M Kourouma (M Sylla 63min), O Kante, M Kane, S Kaba (MBayo 63 min).

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