Zimbabwe…….. (2) 2
Botswana…….. (1) 1
WARRIORS interim coach Klaus Dieter Pagels’ rebuilding exercise began on a positive note after his new-look squad overcame an early scare to beat a visiting Botswana side in a poorly-attended international football friendly match at Rufaro Stadium yesterday.
REPORT HENRY MHARA
The Zebras raced into an early lead after striker Lemponye Tshireletso tapped in from close range with just three minutes on the clock following a cross from the right that the hosts’ defenders should have dealt with easily.
The Warriors, who are preparing for their 2014 World Cup qualifier against Egypt next month, restored parity 14 minutes later when Khama Billiat scrambled home after the opposition goalkeeper had fumbled a Mathew Rusike cross from the right side.
Captain Denver Mukamba then showed quality to increase Zimbabwe’s lead in the 24th minute when he made his trademark rollover that fooled a defender before releasing a snap shot that hit the nets, off the upright post.
In his post-match comments, Pagels — who in the build-up to the match had been emphasising on a quick-passing type of play — said he was impressed with the performance of the team.
He was quick to highlight though that a lot of work still needed to be done before the players could understand his new “philosophy”.
“It was a good start for the team because the football I want is not long balls from the defence to the front. I’m happy that there were no long balls from the goalkeeper upfront.
“The players were playing the ball around and the transition from the defenders to the midfielders was good.
“Now we have to come up with more training so that we can be able to play the ball to the front more quickly.
“I hope we can have one more friendly match before we play Egypt. There are a lot of positives which we can take from this match,” said Pagels.
Botswana coach Stanley Tshosane said: “Zimbabwe were very good in terms of retaining possession, so technically they were better than my side, but in terms of creating chances I think we did well. We had one training session here yesterday (on Tuesday) which was interrupted by rain so I think against such circumstances they did pretty well. I was also missing some of the stars for this match.”
A minute of silence was observed before the match to honour the late Vice-President John Nkomo, who died last month.