Zimbabwe overcame serious challenges on Wednesday to beat Mozambique 3-1 in an international friendly match in Maputo in a game where their technical abilities were positively exposed.
It was a long journey from home, having started with uncertainty over travelling arrangements.
Zifa’s organisational capabilities were under the microscope, just a day after the Zifa board attended a Fifa retreat in Kariba to examine some of those issues.
The Warriors’ journey to Mozambique was haphazard.
The local contingent of seven Warriors left Harare around 5pm on Monday and arrived in Johannesburg at night, without an assistant coach and team manager.
Goalkeepers’ coach Richard Tswatswa and team doctor Nicholas Munyonga, who just had to double up as manager, were part of the technical team.
The worst was yet to come as captain Method Mwanjali temporarily pulled out of the team a few minutes before departure, saying he had an urgent case to attend to, which head of delegation Fungai Chihuri was made aware of.
Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha would ask to be booked on a later flight as the team continued to fragment.
Nengomasha arrived in Maputo at around 9pm after his luggage had gone missing at the OR Tambo International Airport.
Mwanjali later called the technical team that he would arrive at 11am on the day of the match.
He did arrive and put in a good display in the heart of defence, dispelling all rumours that it was a ploy to sabotage acting head coach Madinda Ndlovu.
With the way the players expressed themselves on Wednesday, one really wonders how they failed to beat the Cape Verde Islands at home in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
For starters, it was basically the same side, save for the absence of Noel Kaseke, the now retired Benjani Mwaruwari and Justice Majabvi that played on Wednesday.
The myth that Esrom Nyandoro and Nengomasha cannot play together was laid to rest in the game. Both players were given largely free roles by Ndlovu in midfield, leaving them to roam up and down in support of strikers and protect the defence.
Nengomasha, known as the General at Kaizer Chiefs, simply justified his status with a commanding display in both anchoring and supporting Nyasha Mushekwi and Knowledge Musona in attack.
His combination with Nyandoro was telepathic, leaving one to wonder why they were not called up for the Liberia game.
Yes, they could be in their 30s, but their experience is what Ndlovu relied on.
“They showed the experience needed at this level and played freely in support of the defence and attack.
“It was an excellent game. I was impressed by the way they responded to the formation change. It was brilliant, as was the way they communicated among themselves.
“”You could see that when Mandaza (Terrence) came in, Musona dropped behind the two strikers and showed his creativity in the third goal. He (Musona) is more comfortable going back to get the ball and running at defenders,” Ndlovu said.
At right wingback, Gilbert Mapemba was just a marvel to watch, certainly one player who is comfortable with the ball while Zephaniah Ngodzo, at the other wing, did a marvelous job to shut down the youthful Mozambique side.
Mambas coach Joao Chissano’s lame excuse was that he had fused the players with youngsters as he was preparing for an Olympic qualifier against Morocco early next year.
Stuck in 118th position in the Fifa world rankings and 30th in Africa, the result will certainly mean an improvement for Warriors in the standings once the latest rankings are released.
“The nation wanted a victory and we delivered that. I would like to pay tribute to Mwanjali and his troops for this wonderful job.”
Hopefully the same performance will be repeated in March next year when the Warriors face Mali in their third Afcon qualifier in Bamako.
The Warriors are third with two points from two games with surprise package Cape Verde leading the standings with four points.