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‘We lacked experience’

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WARRIORS captain Esrom Nyandoro believes the team which lost 2-0 away to Angola in Luanda on Sunday, to miss out on a place at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) football finals in South Africa, simply lacked the requisite experience to match their opponents.

Report by Daniel Nhakaniso, Sports Reporter

Warriors captain Esrom Nyandoro (in white T-shirt), soon after arrival at Harare International Airport, leads the pack after their 2-0 Sunday loss to Angola in Luanda.

 

The Warriors were just 90 minutes away from qualifying for only the third time in their history at Afcon, but the dream vanished just seven minutes into the crucial match after a brace from Manucho in a space of three minutes.

The 32-year-old Nyandoro, who has been to two previous Afcon campaigns, said the Angolans had more players who had experience of playing in big matches.

“The Angolans have been at the Nations Cup a number of times and we have to consider how experienced they are in dealing with such situations. We lacked experience as it was the first time for most of the players to be in such a situation,” Nyandoro said.

Besides Nyandoro, Tinashe Nengomasha was the only other player to feature in a previous Warriors squad to qualify for Afcon.

The duo could, however, not make a difference as they, together with the rest of the team, crumbled under the weight of expectations.

While Nyandoro felt that the team could have done better with more experience in such matches, he commended the players for a brave fightback after conceding the early goals.

He said there was need to support the young players as they were the future of the Warriors.

“Obviously I’m very disappointed that we couldn’t finish the job, but personally I think the boys did very well. It was just unfortunate that we conceded those early goals.

“We have a very young side and we just have to encourage and motivate them so that we soldier on because we still have some games to play.

“They are the future. You have to commend the way they came back and played in the second half,” he said.

The veteran Mamelodi Sundowns utility player conceded that as far as his career was concerned, this year’s campaign was probably his last chance to play at Afcon, but said he would continue supporting the team.

“I’m not getting any younger, you know. I’m 32 now and it would have been an opportunity to play at Afcon again, but it’s just unfortunate we couldn’t qualify. I just hope Zimbabwe will qualify in the future and I will be their number one supporter,” Nyandoro said.

Head coach Rahman Gumbo said nerves and pressure got the better of his players in the first 10 minutes of the match.

“I think it was a case of stage fright. The boys were not really ready to deal with those kind of situations in the first 10 minutes. Angolan fans also did a very good job in unsettling our players, so by the time they got back into the game it was too late,” Gumbo said.

Gumbo said it was important for the fans not to lose hope with the team as there were still upcoming assignments.

“It’s now back to the drawing board for us. We have to understand that we still have the World Cup qualifiers which we still need to prepare for,” he said.

Asked if he was happy with the contribution of the new players who were drafted into the side after being exonerated from the Asiagate match-fixing scandal, Gumbo said:

“Under the circumstances the new players did their best. I was not expecting them to do any miracles, the best they could do, but it was just not our day.”

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