Zimbabwe Warriors: Well done, but . . .

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THE Warriors stumbled at the last hurdle, falling in the dreaded lottery from what could have been a historic achievement in reaching the African Nations Championships (Chan) finals when they went down 5-4 to Libya in the semi-finals on Wednesday night.

BY WELLINGTON TONI
SPORTS EDITOR

It was a journey worth following — one that saw the Warriors reaching the last eight for the first time in the history of the competition — and in their third consecutive appearance. This, they did with a stunning 1-0 win over Burkina Faso in the group stages.

They were not done yet.

In the quarterfinals, they met Mali and, boy, what a performance it was as Simba Sithole of How Mine and Kuda Mahachi scored apiece for a 2-1 win that further rewrote the history of the Warriors in this competition.

What was left was to clear the Libyan hurdle in the semi-finals at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, but after a goal from Simba Sithole of Dynamos was wrongly adjudged to have been scored from an offside position, it was left to the dreaded shootout to decide the finalist.

A Libyan defender played Sithole on-side when the ball was released from the right flank, but the near assistant referee raised his flag.

Goalkeeper George Chigova saved twice, but that was not enough to drive confidence into his fellow comrades as Ali Sadiki, Milton Ncube, Sithole (Dynamos) and Peter Moyo all missed their spot kicks.

Defenders Eric Chipeta, Hardlife Zvirekwi and Patson Jaure converted, together with the sure-footed defensive midfielder Danny Phiri. The Warriors will now face Nigeria tomorrow in the third place play-off. The Super Eagles were worse off than the Warriors as they converted just once in losing 4-1 to Ghana.

Libyan goalkeeper Mohamed Nashnush Abduala was the star for the North Africans, saving two and converting the deciding spot kick to leave them with a guaranteed cheque of $400 000. The winners’ trophy is worth $750 000. The Warriors will get $250 000.

There was a little problem, though, with Zimbabwe’s penalty takers: Sithole (Dynamos) had not scored in the competition and was under pressure to deliver in a match that the Warriors needed to win.

Moyo, while good at winning balls and driving forward, exhibited wayward shooting during the matches that he played and there was no way he could have scored from the spot. He simply lacked accuracy.

Ncube and Sadiki’s left footed penalties were all too predictable for Nashnush.

Most teams tend to use goalkeepers in the lottery and Chigova could have converted one.

Zimbabwe has a serious shortage of strikers in the mould of Peter Nyama (72 goals in one season) and Moses Chunga (46 goals in one season) and it’s one serious area that coaches need to work on.

Last season’s top scorer Tendai Ndoro managed 18, Nyasha Mushekwi scored 23 goals in 2009 and Norman Maroto had 22 in 2010. Then former Dynamos striker Rodreck Mutuma scored just 14 goals to lift the Top Goal Scorer Award three years ago.

This shows the deteriorating quality of strikers in the country.

Despite the Warriors’ failure to reach the final, a cross section of Zimbabwean fans are happy.

Top swimmer Kirsty Coventry said: “Zimbabwe Warriors fought a good fight. You may not have made the Chan finals, but you can come home with your heads held high!”

Former Education minister David Coltart had this to say: “The Warriors have made us very proud as a nation, although you lost tonight you went down fighting and with dignity. Congratulations lads.”

Sports and Recreation Commission director-general Charles Nhemachena said: “We are impressed by the performance of the Warriors at Chan. By reaching the semi-finals it shows they have got great potential. Now Zifa needs to come up with a strategic plan of where we go from here. The Warriors flew our flag high, but of course there are areas that the technical team would look into like the issue of goal scoring. But generally our boys were impressive.”

Sport, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa said, “Well done Warriors, it would have been nice to be in the final, but God has other plans.”

Kaizer Chiefs striker Mathew Rusike concurred with Langa saying: “Hard luck Zimbabwe. At least we left the tournament fighting and proud. Nothing to be ashamed of lads.”

Zimbabwe ambassador to Senegal Trudy Stevenson also praised the boys saying: “Our boys played very well, they have come so far this last year — aluta continua.”

Tanaka Honest added: “Well done Warriors, I will always support you. However, you should get a better 90th gift for Mr President!”

Another Warriors supporter Mhandu said: “It’s a loss I wasn’t expecting, but then with soccer you never know. I think we need to give Gorowa some credit and give him time. Above all, his team has been thus far the most successful one to reach the semis in Zimbabwean football history. Moreso, credit should be given to the boys for such a performance, though I wasn’t satisfied with Ngoma (Donald) coming in and some of Gorowa’s substitutions leave a lot of questions.

All in all, I also thank you Zimbos for your support.”

10 COMMENTS

  1. @Mhandu get your facts right Zimbabwe hosted & won the 1985 CECAFA Tournament ,they duly dispatched Kenya 2-0 with the two goals coming from the late Shacky Tauro& Gift Mpariwa..After all the Proper Warriors have actually qualified for two editions of the proper Africa Cup of Nations in 2004&2006.However Congratulations to Gaffer Ian Gorowa & the lads 4 commendable performances.

  2. It was a great all round perfomance by the warriors and credit goes to the coach and his technical team as well as to the players 4 playing as a solid unit. We need to build on this success we do not want to hear of the circus of Cashbert failing to provide for the welfare of the team like what happened when Gorowa had fork money from his pocket feed the warriors. The ministry responsible should takeover this issue of player welfare in future becoz national pride and partriotism should come above everything and pliz no politics hands off our warriors.

  3. I would not wisely criticize anyone or anything from that match. I think we should people that played soccer once in their lives, took or saved or missed or conceded a goal from a penalty before, we should have them report on a match like this. These people would write a story without a ‘but’ in the headline. Let’s say well done for over-achieving and end there, thank you. Why always be negative? Shame on you

  4. Chisiyayi ma warriors achipfeka kit ye white and green iyo yakanaka plus ine maresults. Ye green and gold yakashata plus ine munyama. Maruzi ega ega nekit iyoyo.

  5. Welldone Zimbabwe you did us proud after years of breaking our hearts…I would like to address the issue No13 jersey of Zimbabwe please Adam Ndhlovu was not bigger than the game,he was just an average player who represanted us well,lets not took things too far,lets keep using the jersey,we did well confirming that its the right things to do..please zifa stop this Mediocrity and put wise ideas for our PSL and National teams on the table….
    Lastly Warriors Please beat Nigeria they cheated us for 2000 Olympics game last qualifying game.GO Gorowa and the Boyz we are behind you

    • adam was just an average player its only that the tragic way he died otherwise there were far much beta players than him in the dream team. konjera, Shonhai, Mapeza and eve Gumbo. what about the Nos Konjera and Shonhai used to put during their days

  6. That was a wonderful performance by our boys. The only problem which costed us is that “prophet” who was misleading our boys. May prophets leave soccer alone please.

  7. Please let soccer be played in the soccer field and not in the newspapers. Why do we need to ice-cake something which went wrong? Gorowa you failed the nation when everyone was expecting the cup home. Correct your shortcomings quickly. Otherwise you will be no different than most of your predecessors who completely failed the nation.

  8. I have a solution already. I have managed to secure the hand of a lady coming from the family of some of the best strikers in Africa. I am hoping to transfer the genes. Jokes aside, we need to target those genes seriously.

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