Young Warriors on the brink

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Young warriors captain Wisdom Mutasa (C) celebrates his goal against Cameroon as fellow players join in at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday.

THE Young Warriors will need to be at full strength if they are entertaining any chance of knocking out Swaziland in the second round, second leg tie at Somhlolo Stadium in Mbabane this Sunday after opening tie ended goalless at Rufaro.

BY WELLINGTON TONI

Coach Kalisto Pasuwa suffered the brunt of the Premier Soccer League clubs calling on their best players — the same players that he did duty with against Cameroon as they qualified for the All- Africa Games.

Dynamos recalled Blessing Moyo and goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva for yesterday’s Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against Tsholotsho and with a tough home date against Triangle next weekend, it’s unlikely the duo will be unavailable again.

Pasuwa had the Warriors’ exit to thank as he managed to get goalkeeper Donovan Bernard in time for the match after training with only Takabva Mawaya the whole week.

Chicken Inn players Raphael Kutinyu and defender Lawrence Mhlanga were also not available, but the PSL leaders still went down 1-0 to Hwange.

Vice-captain Ronald Pfumbidzai, who is on trials at Danish Superliga side Hobro IK, was replaced by new call-up Edwin Madhananga of Flame Lily, and his presence for the return leg has not been confirmed.

Ronald Pfumbidzai dribbles past Cameroon player Mougang Bassogog in some of the action between the Young Warriors and Cameroon at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday-001

South African side Mamelodi Sundowns winger Kuda Mahachi could not make it for camp due to family commitments, but could still be available if things go well.

Because of financial problems at Zifa, the team failed to get Macauley Bonne from England while Dutch-based Marvelous Nakamba was involved in the Europa League play-offs with his side Vitesse Arnhem.

Pasuwa had captain Wisdom Mutasa limping throughout the match, resulting in the FC Platinum man failing to get into tougher ball-winning tackles.

A shining beacon for the Young Warriors remained right wing attacker Malvern Gaki, described by former Dynamos coach Moses Chunga as a gem in the making.

But Gaki alone could not save the Young Warriors and they need an assistant as Thomas Chideu and his replacement later in the second half, Mgcini Sibanda, failed to come to the party.

Pasuwa can still gamble with Gaki up front, but give him an able supporting partner to trouble the Swazi defence.

“We trained with some of the players only for them to be taken by their teams. We had to take some of the guys who had played at Cosafa to boost the numbers and given such a scenario, it was a problem coming up with cohesion,” he said.

“We were not creative enough in the attacking third. We have to go back to the drawing board to come up with a plan to unlock them when we play them away in Swaziland.

“This is only the first half and the same way they have come here and got a draw, we can also go there and come back with a win,” Pasuwa told reporters in his post-match assessment.

At the end of the match, the Swazis celebrated the draw and they are looking at finishing off the Young Warriors on Sunday, but it still remains an open game as an away goal can the pressure back on Isihlangu.

Swaziland coach Caleb Ngwenya said: “It was a very tough match because the Zimbabwe boys were very strong and pushed us, but a draw is a good result for us. The boys played according to the game plan because we knew what type of game to expect.”

Swaziland played with a solid back four of Mamuli Nkambule, Khethokuhle Mkhontfo, Mxosili Mkhontfo and Mndeni Mamba supported by midfielders Sibonelo Dhlamini and Ndumiso Ndaba who rarely ventured up front for fear of opening gaps for a Young Warriors attack.

But obviously, this type of play will change in the second leg as they will be seeking an early goal to unsettle the visitors.

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