NATIONAL Under-20 football team manager Patrick Mutesva said the technical bench should take the blame for the Young Warriors’ elimination from the Cosafa Under-20 Championships currently on in Maseru, Lesotho.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Young Warriors suffered a 4-3 penalty shootout defeat to South Africa in the semi-finals on Thursday despite playing the majority of the second half with an extra player after Amajita goalkeeper was red-carded in the 47th minute.
The match had ended goalless in regulation time.
Zimbabwe will now meet Angola in the third and fourth play-off match at 1400hrs today, while South Africa take on Kenya in the finals three hours later.
Mutesva yesterday gave a blunt assessment of the defeat, blaming the technical team led by coach Jairosi Tapera for tactical shortcomings.
“I’m not pointing fingers at anyone in particular because I’m also part of the technical team. I think we failed the boys in that match. After the opposition were reduced to 10 men, we should have changed the tactics. We should have changed the formation, probably sending in another striker. We were dominating the match even before the expulsion and we should have advised the coach to add an extra man upfront,” Mutesva said.
“The boys did their best and created a good number of scoring chances. Maybe we were just unlucky or it was fate, but I think we should have won that match. The boys are disappointed because they were looking to play in the finals and win the tournament,” Mutesva added.
The Young Warriors had been blowing hot and cold in this tournament so far.
An average performance in the first match against Swaziland, which they won 2-1, was followed by an absolutely outstanding show in the second match where they thrashed Botswana 3-0.
Walter Musona, Wisdom Mutasa and Ronald Pfumbidzai were exceptional in that match.
Then, the Young Warriors were just flat against Mozambique in the third match, with the game ending 1-1.
“It was a good tournament in terms of exposure for the young boys. This tournament gives a chance for the young players to shine and get spotted by scouts.
We had our own players who really impressed here and I’m quite sure that one or two will be signed by big clubs,” Mutesva said.
It was not just the indifferent performance by the Young Warriors which also caught the eye, but their kit at the tournament has also been a subject of discussion.
Their kit, reported to be only one set for the whole tournament, did not bear a Zifa logo or the national emblem.
Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga on Thursday said she felt embarrassed when she realised the team’s predicament.
She said her ministry would make sure that all national teams would be well-kitted and fully resourced when they participate in international tournaments.
The Young Warriors delegation is expected to arrive back into the country from Maseru tomorrow night.