Despite the 2-1 loss to Burundi in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations first leg qualifier on Wednesday, interim coach Rahman Gumbo believes the Warriors have a realistic chance of proceeding to the second phase of the continental football competition.
The return leg will be played at Rufaro on June 17.
Gumbo, a veteran coach who has seen action in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana, was thrust at the helm of the Warriors as head coach after the suspension of coach Norman Mapeza and more than 90 players over their alleged involvement in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal.
If you remember very well, we were supposed to start our training last Monday, but the preparations did not go on well. We then started the ball rolling on Tuesday with only local players while foreign-based players trickled in.
We trained for a few days with 11 players before the number rose to 13. Our major undoing was that we had to pass by South Africa to pick up other players who ply their trade there and later connected to Burundi.
Other players plying their trade in Europe had to fly straight to Burundi with a player like Knowledge Musona only arriving three hours before the crucial match and he had no time to rest, Gumbo said.
The soft-spoken coach said the team had only Monday and Tuesday to fine-tune combinations which almost paid off away from home.
You know this is an almost new team altogether and we must consider that some of the guys here were coming for their first time. But to my surprise, the team gelled well as if these guys have been playing together for a long time.
Gumbo, however, did not dismiss chances of yet another dance with the Warriors as head coach.
As long as I am asked to do the job, I will be always available for my country, Gumbo said.
We hope this spirit will remain in them and also hope that the Asiagate scandal is resolved in time so that whoever will be in charge can start preparing for the return leg in time with a wide range of selection, hoping that some of the players fingered would have been cleared.
In the match, Zimbabwe created a host of chances but were not able to convert them.
Onisimor Bhasera was brought down at the edge of the box and Musona took the responsibility, but his effort went way over the bar in the third minute
before returning with a stinger that Norway-based Burundi goalkeeper Ndikunawa Janvier scooped for a corner kick at the second bite.
In the 34th minute, Bhasera, after collecting a long pass from Tinashe Nengomasha, watched in disbelief as his blistering effort hit the woodwork.
With the hosts leading 1-0, Zimbabwe could have pulled one back in the 50th minute, but substitute Terrence Mandaza missed with the first attempt while Mandla Sibanda failed to bury the rebound.
Mandaza then beat a cluster of defenders and laid a low cross for Sibanda who reacted slowly allowing the Burundi defenders to recover.
The equaliser came in the 58th minute when Musona sliced home a long defence-splitting pass from Arnold Chaka.
A interchange of passes between Musona and Nengomasha saw the Germany-based striker release Vusa Nyoni, who came face-to-face with the goalkeeper only to be denied by the goalpost.
The Warriors kept on piling the pressure and Mandaza was back again in the 83rd minute after being set up by Archford Gutu, but again reacted slowly allowing the Burundi defenders to dispossess him.
The visitors final attack came in the 87th minute when Nengomasha was set up by Nyoni, but Valery Nahayo cleared, before he sank Zimbabwes hearts with a header in the fifth minute of added time.
The Warriors arrived back home yesterday morning while manager Nyika Chifamba and Tapiwa Khumbuyani are expected this morning.