THE Warriors huddled in the centre of the National Sports Stadium pitch yesterday at full-time, trying to make sense of their mediocrity over 100 minutes against a Tanzania team that had arrived prepared for an onslaught.
Instead, the Taifa Stars found themselves playing at “home”.
They won the reverse leg of the 2015 Africa Nations Cup of Nations (Afcon) 1-0 in Dar es Salaam two weeks ago, but came to Harare and scored twice to stun an estimated 50 000 fans that watched yesterday’s horrible show by the Warriors.
The Warriors, what Warriors? One would be tempted to ask.
Three minutes of added time in the first half and seven in the second half did little to bring out the fighters in this class of 2014.
There was a lot to ponder from the 14 men given the duty to overturn the deficit yesterday — we were just not up to scratch. We lacked the aggression and the pace to trouble the visitors.
No friendly matches before the two legs — Tanzania played three.
The Warriors have no sponsor, Tanzania are powered by their Government and a major company.
Cuthbert Malajila did not deserve a place in the starting line-up — he has not scored for the Warriors in five years.
Denver Mukamba has been a part-timer at Bidvest Wits in South Africa and, yes, we need some creativity, but was he the right man?
Edward Sadomba has found the going tough in the Warriors colours despite impressive form at club level and in the Caf Champions League.
Tendai Ndoro rose to fame at the Cosafa Cup last year in Zambia and was signed by Mpumalanga Black Aces where he scored seven times in 13 games of the second half of the season.
Yesterday, he was just off colour.
Willard Katsande made a return to the team with a goal in the second half, but it was not enough to spur the Warriors to get two more goals to salvage the tie.
Katsande has been a rough rider for Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa and much was expected from him and his defensive midfield partner Danny Phiri, who had given the Warriors much hope with that sweet opening goal in the 13th minute.
But from there, we went to sleep and allowed the Tanzanians, as they had planned all week, to catch us on the counter.
Yet, it was the Warriors who had the ball and when Hardlife Zvirekwi turned his back on the ball, the Taifa Stars charged.
From there, they got a corner that we defended like amateurs and we conceded.
Sixty seconds after the restart, Eric Chipeta mistimed a clearance and TP Mazembe star Thomas Ulimwengu raced clear on the left and when George Chigova came out to narrow the gap, he was beaten by a simple ball to the near post.
And with that our Afcon 2015 hopes went up in smoke.
Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda said the Warriors missed a number of chances they should have easily converted while player agent Edzai Kasinauyo was just at a loss of words after the match.
The fans were clearly disgruntled and took pot shots at the players with some water bottles as they went down the tunnel.
Now we know where we belong: invitational tournaments like Cosafa.
We don’t have the material to compete at this stage; we are not hungry enough for success.
Whether the players get paid $700 or $2 000 it’s neither here nor there, they don’t deserve it, at least for now.
The Chan hangover has taken its toll on the Warriors and we think we can beat any team in Africa, but look, we don’t have the likes of Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Kuda Mahachi and Peter Moyo to drive that dream.
From yesterday’s ashes, Phiri was the outstanding player as always. Kuda Musharu came in with some pace which has seen him score eight times in the local league, but it was too little too late.
Ovidy Karuru still has some touches and going forward, we still need him with the experience of Sadomba and Katsande.
With the Caf ranking system, it means for the 2017 finals, we will be starting at the preliminary stages with the likes of Comoros, Swaziland and South Sudan.
This is embarrassing to say the least. And worse still, Botswana, Lesotho, Rwanda, Guinea Bissau, Kenya and Uganda managed to sail through. This makes us the whipping boys on the continent.
What a shame!