IN typical Jose Mourinho style, one of football’s greatest managers, Warriors coach, Kalisto Pasuwa, believes the medical team should take the blame for the 1-0 defeat to neighbours Zambia in a tightly-contested Group D African Nations Championship (Chan) opener on Tuesday.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
Yesterday, Pasuwa said they could have avoided defeat had the medical team communicated with him in time.
“If you could see the goal they scored, it was due to the fact that we had one boy — a centre back who went out injured and we were waiting for communication from the doctor so we could bring on another player and it took a long time before a decision was made and they scored. I think we could have avoided that goal,” he said.
Pasuwa watched his charges, who dominated the entire first half slumping to a defeat courtesy of veteran forward Isaac Chansa’s solitary strike in the 59th minute.
The goal came when the Warriors were one-man down following an injury to defender Elisha Muroiwa after he clashed with Zambia’s Stephen Kabamba.
It took the medical team almost six minutes to treat the injured player, while Pasuwa was waiting for communication from the medical team for him to bring on another player.
The Warriors coach, however, said they played well despite the defeat.
“I think the guys played well considering the fact that we missed so many clear chances. If we had buried those chances we could have wrapped up the match. But again you could see in the first 30 minutes they were trying to adjust, hence, it’s one area we could say we should have played a friendly match for these guys to have in mind of what to expect at a big tournament like this. Most of the time we were losing possession, but we managed to get two or three chances and we could have punished them.”
With Mali and Uganda settling for a 2-2 draw in the other group D match on Tuesday, the Warriors, emerged the beneficiaries of the stumble by the two sides.
The draw left Group D wide open. Zimbabwe will now need at least four points from their two remaining matches to secure a quarter final place provided Zambia beat Mali and Uganda in their next two matches.
That scenario will see the Warriors finishing second in their Group behind Zambia.
The match against Mali is a must-win tie for Pasuwa and his men.
Pasuwa said Mali play a highly physical and robust game and they would try to avoid contact and play the ball into space.
“Mali are quick and play a very physical game. We also need to be quick and try to close them down and congest the midfield. We don’t need to be in contact with them, but try to put the ball into space,” Pasuwa said.
Veteran Chansa, summoned his vast experience in international football to decide the contest early in the second half, profiting from a wonderful delivery from the left by fellow veteran, Chris Katongo (33), to beat the badly exposed Zimbabwean goalkeeper Bernard Donovan.
While the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations champions won the match, it was the Warriors who showed lots of verve and brio in the first half, carving out good chances, only to be let down by poor finishing.
Forwards Ronald Chitiyo, Knox Mutizwa and Edmore Chirambadare all came close, but it was the latter, who missed what probably was his team’s best opportunity, directing his effort wide, with the goalkeeper to beat.