Motor Action have shown some admirable spirit whenever playing domestic football, but they have been regularly exposed whenever they meet teams from outside the country.
Their embarrassing defeat at the hands of struggling South African side Black Leopards in the Caf Confederation Cup preliminary round second leg at Rufaro Stadium exposed their shortcomings at the second highest level of continental club football.
After drawing the first leg 1-1 away in Polokwane, Motor Action just needed a goalless draw to progress to the first round.
Instead, they were sent packing by a spirited Leopards team to leave the home supporters scratching their heads.
Midfielder Thabo Mongalo capitalised on some poor marking at the back and struck twice in both halves as last year’s horrific memories of Motor Action crashing out of the Champions League to Asec Mimosas of Ivory Coast at the same venue resurfaced.
While their exit from the Champions League campaign last year was understandable to some extent because of the financial difficulties they found themselves in prior to the qualifiers, there was no excuse for the performance they displayed last Sunday.
With unlimited resources at their disposal, courtesy of Mbada Diamonds Holdings, the motivation was there and many expected them to go all the way. Motor Action coach Joey Antipas blamed inexperience in his side for the dismal performance.
“It’s a new side and to get these new players going takes time,” said Antipas after the match.
While this statement from the coach is worrying because he has in his squad players like Marlon Jani, Protasho Kabwe, Isaac Masame, Edward Tembo and Masimba Mambare who have played at the highest level, some of them with the Warriors, it was the players’ attitude that was worrying.
The hosts had all the possession they needed in the match, but seemed to be a team without passion, motivation or zeal to win.They created waves of attack, but were always found wanting when it mattered most, on the final pass.They lacked creativity whenever they got into forward positions. They kept pumping the ball into the box, and Leopards defenders, who were clearly more gifted in the height department, comfortably dealt with the raids.
Many people who watched the match also felt that Antipas got his tactics horribly wrong from the start. He started the match with Issac Madziva and Ngoni Maviri on the wings, instead of the quick and usually dependable pair of Masimba Mambare and Gift Phiri who were relegated to the bench.
Maviri and Madziva were slow on the ball and their crosses into the box were mostly disappointing. The untested Ismael Lawe was also given the nod ahead of the veteran Enasio Perezo upfront.
By the time Antipas realised the mistakes and tried to make some changes, the damage had already been done.
At the end of it all, it was a humiliating defeat for Antipas and his team, being eliminated at this stage especially when other Zimbabwean representatives in the African safari, Hwange and FC Platinum were winning in impressive style.