IT WAS an afternoon’s script that went horribly wrong for the Warriors as they crumbled to a Mohammed Salah-inspired Egypt to go down 4-2 in a 2014 World Cup football qualifier at the National Sports Stadium in Harare yesterday.
Report by Wellington Toni
The moment Egypt scored their opening goal in the fifth minute, there was always Murphy’s Law lurking somewhere around that anything that is bound to go wrong will go wrong.
Felix Chindungwe and Lincoln Zvasiya were caught sleeping in central defence when 35-year-old Mohamed Abou Treika ghosted it to shock the hosts.
For someone of his experience, Zvasiya, who stars for South Africa’s double kings Kaizer Chiefs, he should have been there to provide the shield for the Chicken Inn centre-back, but surprisingly he did not even seem to be involved in shutting down the Egyptian veteran.
And when Knowledge Musona — always giving 100% for his nation — seemed to have given the Warriors hope with that delicate chip of a goal in the 21st minute from a Devon Chafa lob and Egyptian defender’s mistake, more disaster was to strike for the Warriors.
With Ocean Mushure always the offensive defender he is known to be, at one stage or another he was always going to disappear off his flank.
And that split second caught Chindungwe flatfooted as the ball was quickly played behind his back for a 2-1 lead.
Having realised the mistakes from the 2-1 loss in March and playing at home in this game, the Warriors had to up their game, but it was hard to tell where the goals would come from as the presence of Hardlife Zvirekwi and Tafadzwa Rusike did not go down well with some Zimbabwe faithfuls.
With a rich bench in the form of the offensive Khama Billiat, Mathew Rusike, Ovidy Karuru, Denver Mukamba and Rodreck Mutuma, surely some better choices could have been made from the start. But we are not Klaus Dieter Pagels, he knows better and he had his best laid-out plans.
But when plans are suddenly destroyed by simply lack of concentration, or mistakes, something urgently has to be done.
We saw Archford Gutu, whenever he had possession, choosing to go back to his suspect defence forcing Musona to draw further back to search for the ball.
That meant Cuthbert Malajila was always in a sea of red and white with no proper supply of the ball.
This is where one needed the power of Willard Katsande in going forward or protecting the defence. Ask Stuart Baxter — Katasande plays like a hooligan, but does he not get the job done? And instead of Chindungwe, Costa Nhamoinesu could have a been better option.
But we are not the coach, are we?
Having realised that, the Egyptians kept the foot on the pedal and pressed on for that second goal after Musona’s equaliser.
And it duly arrived when Chindungwe mistimed. The Chicken Inn man was taken off at half-time to save him from further misery and in came Billiat.
By the hour, Mukamba had also made his way in for Gutu, but oh, when he tried to play a short one to the back, the central defence was caught sleeping again and Zvasiya’s half-committed race back to stop Salah yielded nothing, but a third goal for the hosts.
The thriller was not over as Zvasiya then took it upon himself to get Zimbabwe’s second goal heading from a cross on the right nine minutes from time to set up an enthralling finale.
And it was just as good as over five minutes from time when Partson Jaure went off the radar in central defence and the Egyptians got the fourth goal to all but seal a place in the last qualifying round of the 2014 World Cup race.
Next week, the same team will engage Guinea in Conakry with nothing to play for, but we expect the pride of the nation to be kept intact with a better performance and to correct the horrible mistakes that fans witnessed yesterday.
It was everybody’s feeling that a new dawn would be brought about by a win, but alas, we live to fight, or to lose another day!
Under Pagels, the Warriors had not lost by more than two goals, home and away and four at home is too large a margin to imagine.