Warriors coach, Kalisto Pasuwa yesterday apologised for the team’s early elimination from the African Nations Cup Championships (Chan).
BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN RUBAVU, RWANDA
When Pasuwa took his charges to their morning training session yesterday, he was trying to make sense of what happened in the previous game, where he watched his team doing everything else right, but getting it horribly wrong infront of goal.
Like what happened against Zambia, the Warriors created several chances, which all went to waste, only for Mali, who were out of the game for the better part of play, to deliver a sucker-punch late on, with Mousa Sissoko pouncing at the end of a free-kick.
Pasuwa said he was wondering how the players he watched throughout the 2015 season converting more difficult chances failed so dismally in these two matches.
For a while yesterday, at Umganda Stadium, where the Warriors lost to Mali, Pasuwa watched his boys hit the nets from all directions, wondering just how they had failed to convert even easier chances the day before.
“I would like to apologise to the nation for letting them. A lot was expected of us, but we lost the first two matches and we are out. We have learnt a lot from this tournament, especially the importance of small details,” he said.
“Everybody wants an explanation, but we played well. I am still trying to figure out how we failed to convert some of the chances we got. Maybe, it was because of stage fright and I think the lessons they have learnt here will help in future games for some of the younger players.”
William Manondo and Ronald Chitiyo squandered the best chances that came Zimbabwe’s way.
Chitiyo has a reputation of unleashing powerful and precise shots, but on Saturday, he could only produce a tame effort faced only with the goalkeeper.
Manondo on the other hand was picked out by Hardlife Zvirekwi, but failed to control the ball, much to the delight of the Mali goalkeeper, who collected it comfortably.
Even a draw would have pleased Mali in this match considering they were under seige for long periods, as Zimbabwe fashioned chance after chance.
Pasuwa said they have shifted focus to their last match against Uganda on Wednesday, but said it was important to keep this team together for the future.
“The majority of players in this squad are Under 23s and we do not regret coming here with a young team. The idea is to create a feeder system for the national team and we will continue exposing youngsters to prepare them for bigger stages like Afcon.”
While he takes full responsibility for the results, the former Dynamos coach said some of the shortcomings might have stemmed from inadequate preparations.
“If you look at the game against Zambia, we used that match to try and adjust certain areas unlike our opponents, who had fine-tuned against a strong team like Angola. This tournament exposed the need for international friendlies. As we move forward and focus on Afcon, we need one or two friendlies so that the players can learn to gel,” he said.
Pasuwa bemoaned lack of concentration in the manner in which Zimbabwe conceded the two goals in the two matches.
“We defended well in the two matches, but lost concentration on set pieces. This is one area we need to work on when we start preparing for Cosafa and Afcon qualifiers,” he said.
Pasuwa will make some changes to the team for the Uganda match, where he wants to give a run to players who have not featured in this tournament.
“It is important that we give a run to the other guys, so that they get some experience to prepare them for other tournaments,” he said.
Goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze, midfielder Joel Ngodzo, forward Raphael Manuvire, Bruce Kangwa and Moses Demera have not played so far in this tournament.
The match remains important for Zimbabwe, as they seek to restore lost pride by putting some points on the board.
Uganda will be all out seeking maximum points, as they retain faint hopes of qualifying having collected one point with a draw against Mali before succumbing to a 1-0 defeat to Zambia.