Zimbabwe Warriors return home

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THE Zimbabwe national soccer team, the Warriors return home tonight after a successful tour of duty in the Orange African Nations Championships (Chan) where they finished in fourth place after losing 1-0 to Nigeria in a third place play-off match in Cape Town on Saturday.

BY WELLINGTON TONI
SPORTS EDITOR

They will get $250 000 for their efforts.

The Warriors went into the finals — their third in a row — as underdogs, but picked up two crucial points against Morocco in the opening match and Uganda before stunning Burkina Faso 1-0 through a Masimba Mambare header to finally make it to the last eight.

Against fancied Mali, the Warriors were given no chance in the quarterfinals, but when Simba Sithole of How Mine scored the opener, they grew in confidence and Kuda Mahachi added the second before they ran out 2-1 winners.

In the semi-finals, they drew 0-0 against Libya after 120 minutes of play and eventually lost 5-4 on penalties before losing to Nigeria on Saturday. They return home with three goals from five matches.

This is the first time that the Warriors have reached the knockout stages of any Fifa-recognised tournament and that should be evident in the next rankings this month.

In the last two editions in 2009 and 2011 in Ivory Coast and Sudan respectively, the Warriors failed at the group stages.

But once they had done away with Zambia in the qualifying matches, there was always something about Ian Gorowa’s men; they were bound to write their own history. And write they did.

Winners

Simba Sithole joined Ajax Cape Town on a two-year contract after spending just a season in the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League with How Mine. How Mine made all the headlines last year when they crushed the top three — Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United in league and cup competitions and eventually reached the final of the Mbada Diamonds Cup.

In the final, they fell 3-0 to a supercharged and revenge-seeking Bosso, but they had done enough to reach the Caf Confederation Cup competition as Highlanders are barred from Caf inter-club competitions.

Kuda Mahachi — With scouts from French Ligue one big spenders Monaco hovering over the Warriors camp in Cape Town, Mamelodi Sundowns made a swift move and signed a five-year deal with the Bantu Rovers man and immediately loaned him to Highlanders.

Peter Ndlovu, the Sundowns manager played a big role in making sure that Mahachi moves to the team that gave him fame while Rovers’ owner Methembe Ndlovu is also a former Highlanders championship-winning coach.

George Chigova — He was barely tested in the tournament because he had a solid defence of Patson Jaure, Eric Chipeta, Hardlife Zvirekwi and Milton Ncube, but there is no doubt he has a definite future in international football and should be able to move abroad in due course.

Patson Jaure — His biggest asset is positioning in the box, perfectly timed interventions and ability to start moves from the back. Supersport United should move with pace to get this talent.

Eric Chipeta — Big, confident and a team leader, Chipeta is just a natural defender with all attributes and should get a move sooner than later.

Danny Phiri — the unsung hero in the Warriors X1. He knows very well what the Claude Makelele role is all about and one can tell that he comes from the school of Adam Ndlovu’s coaching talents. He breaks down a team’s attack, initiates play if he has a forward-thinking player like Peter Rio Moyo and shields his defence very well.

Disappointment

Having been named the 2013 Soccer Star of the Year Tawanda Muparati went into the tournament as one of the biggest names in the team, but alas, he was a pale shadow of himself and failed to rise to the occasion whenever given a chance to play.

Odd one out

Masimba Mambare-one goal, one red card

Usual problems

It could simply have been historic had the Warriors ended the tournament without some in-house problems. On the eve of the third place play off against Nigeria, the Warriors staged a boycott demanding unpaid allowances and bonuses.

But they just had to fulfil the match, the consequences from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) could have been severe.
Government only provided $88 000 while a local company gave the team $10 000 winning bonus for reaching the last four.

12 COMMENTS

  1. These young guys just wanted to market themselves at CHAN and did quite well. But wait till they secure moves to foreign clubs and try calling them for national duty and you’ll see them always trying to secure defeat from the jaws of victory. Who can blame them? With their record breaking exploits at CHAN ’14 there is no money to pay them. I for one will from now on stop blaming the players for the many defeats and failures they are going to have in the for I now know where the real problem lies.

  2. The boys played so very well big up to them.l respect them for what they did in the CHAN 2014,GO Warriors GO!!!!!!

  3. Our team played well. Thanx to the players, coaches and all the people who supported our beloved warriors.

  4. I love it when it comes to the Warriors …I’m proud to be Zimbabwean these guys they show us how they really wanted to be in this competition …well done guys..Sithole,Mambare,Ncube,Mahachi,Sadiki,Chipeta,Moyo,Phiri,Zvirekwi,Chigova,and my favorite the one and only Jaure(c)…with respect mwaaaa more love on football

  5. Well done real Warriors! The most outstanding national soccer team in years. Iwe ZIFA ipa vana avo mari dzavo mhan!

  6. These warriors didn’t worry us a lot. The team had character. Now I believe local is lekker, forget those players who ply their trade in fong kong leagues.

  7. @ Mr editor. Good comment on Tawanda Muparati. The defense and goalminding of this team is best and should be kept like that for the world cup and afcon. the strike force should be reshuffled.

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