WARRIORS coach Ian Gorowa reportedly threw in the towel last night after Zimbabwe were knocked out of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers following a 2-2 draw against Tanzania at the National Sports Stadium (NSS).
REPORT BY HENRY MHARA
ZIMBABWE . . . . . . (1)2 TANZANIA . . . . . . . (1)2
(Tanzania through on a 3-2 aggregate win)
Gorowa was not immediately available for comment late last night while Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said: “We have not received any communication to that effect.”
After yesterday’s sucker punch at the NSS, a dejected looking Gorowa refused to talk to the media. He had to be escorted to the dressing room, and on his way, was forced to duck a few missiles aimed at him by a section of infuriated Warriors fans.
“What can I say, we wasted a lot of chances . . . that’s it, no further comment,” he said as he hastily trudged off the pitch.
The Warriors went in front through a Danny Phiri’s fourth minute strike to level the aggregate score at 1-1, but were pegged back just 20 minutes later when Tanzania captain Nadir Haroub headed home from a corner kick after a mistake by defenders Erick Chipeta and Hardlife Zvirekwi who carelessly conceded a corner kick.
With Zimbabwe behind and Tanzania having scored a crucial away goal, Gorowa’s side needed to attack, but found themselves further behind straight from the halftime restart when a Chipeta blunder gifted Tanzania a second goal scored by TP Mazembe forward Thomas Ulimwengu.
The Warriors defender’s tame clearance from a back pass was intercepted by Amri Kiemba who put Ulimwengu through for a tidy finish. Warriors goalkeeper George Chigova should, however, have done better to stop the shot as he was beaten on his near post.
The goal meant that Zimbabwe needed to score three clear goals in the remaining 44 minutes, and when Willard Katsande rose clear to head the equaliser on 55th minute, it looked like it would be a mission possible.
However, the Warriors strikers were just poor on the day, and credit is also due to the Tanzanian defenders who performed admirably to keep the attackers at bay.
At the expiration of seven added on minutes, Tanzania coach Mart Nooij could be seen punching the air several times before disappearing into the dressing room. Tanzania assistant coach Salum Mayanga said: “We came here looking for a draw and we got it so we are very happy we achieved that. When Zimbabwe failed to score in Tanzania we knew we had a good chance and thank God, we managed to progress to the next stage.”
A frenetic and passionate start to the game gave Zimbabwe the opener, exactly the kind of start they needed in this match.
Midfielder Ovidy Karuru evaded challenges on the left channel before crossing the ball for Cuthbert Malajila on the blind side who intelligently laid the ball for Phiri to curl beyond the diving Tanzanian goalkeeper Deogratias Muish. It almost got better for the Warriors two minutes later but Denver Mukamba’s shot went just wide.
At the other end, Simon Msuva’s shot ran across the face of goal after the defenders failed to clear their lines, which was an initial warning that all was not well with the hosts’ backline.
Tanzania were giving away free kicks continuously, but Zimbabwe failed to capitalise, and the closest they came to scoring was when Edward Sadomba’s effort from inside the penalty arch after Karuru had been impeded, hit the upright.
It was from a set-piece, their first of the match that the Taifa Stars found their first goal. Chipeta’s short pass to Zvirekwi, who was not even looking at the ball, was intercepted by Mwingi Kazimoto, but the defender recovered quickly to block the effort, but from the resultant corner-kick, Haroub found the breakthrough.
Milton Ncube required medical attention moments later after he was elbowed by Ulimwengu during a tussle for the ball and returned to the pitch five minutes later with a bandaged head.
Meanwhile, Phiri’s freekick was parried away by the goalie and Malajila headed wide from a resultant corner-kick while Sadomba managed to create some space inside the box, but with the keeper to beat, he shot wide.
Malajila also went down and returned on the pitch with a bandage strapped on his head and on 39th minute, Katsande went down inside the box, but Seychelles referee Bernard Camille ignored the strong calls for a penalty from an estimated 50 000 supporters who thronged the stadium. The Kaizer Chiefs hardman then headed wide on 44th minute as the two sides went to the break dreadlocked.
Chasing the tie, Gorowa made his first switch, introduced Tendai Ndoro for Malajila at the start of the second half, but it was Tanzania who immediately went in front after a calamitous defensive clearance by Chipeta.
But Katsande’s equaliser appeared to have invigorated the hosts with numerous chances created, but painfully wasted. Sadomba failed to connect a Karuru cross from the right, Ndoro shot wide from inside the box and Mukamba hit the side netting from an acute angle as the Warriors forwards took turns to miss.
Seven minutes were added to the end of the match to make up of the time wasted by the visitors players, but the two goals needed remained elusive for the hosts with Ndoro again, substitute Pasca Manhanga and Karuru spurning very good chances inside that period, meaning the Warriors’ Afcon campaign ended at the first hurdle.
Zimbabwe: G Chigova, H Zvirekwi, P Jaure, E Chipeta, M Ncube, D Phiri (P Manhanga, 89’), W Katsande, D Mukamba (K Musharu, 70’), O Karuru, E Sadomba, C Malajila (T Ndoro, 46’).
Tanzania: D Munish, S Kapombe, O Joshua, N Haroub, K Yondan, H Chanongo (S Moradi, 80’), J Bocco, M Kazimoto, T Ulimwengu (A Manula, 91’), S Msuva, A Kiemba (H Mao, 65’).