Zimbabwe . . . . . . . . (1) 3
Tanzania . . . . . . . . . . 0
THE Warriors warmed up for the 2017 African Cup of Nations finals in Gabon in January with a comprehensive victory over the Taifa Stars of Tanzania in an international friendly at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
The performance left Warriors coach, Kalisto Pasuwa impressed with the way his team is shaping up.
Star man, Knowledge Musona scored the opener in the ninth minute and provided the assist for his team‘s third goal by Nyasha Mushekwi just before the hour mark after Mathew Rusike (pictured) had doubled the Warriors’ lead in the 54th minute.
It was Rusike’s first goal in senior national team colours, and it appeared to delight his parents, who were in the VIP enclosure, as they were beamed on the big screen celebrating.
“Our aim was to assess how we keep the ball from our opponents. So we were inviting our opponents to come at us and I am happy with the way we defended and kept possession. But going forward, Nyasha (Mushekwi) came short, especially when he lost possession. I think we still need at least two more friendlies before Afcon for the team to gel,” Pasuwa said.
In the absence of injured defender, Costa Nhamoinesu, who plays his club football for Czech Republic side Sparta Prague, Pasuwa deployed a makeshift defence, fielding holding midfielder, Danny Phiri at the heart of the defence, partnering Teenage Hadebe.
And Pasuwa said he was impressed with the way Phiri applied himself in the unfamiliar role.
“He (Phiri) played very well at centreback. He was comfortable with the ball,” Pasuwa said.
After watching the Warriors Group B opponents at the Afcon Senegal and Algeria falter in the World Cup qualifiers at the weekend, at the hands of South Africa and Nigeria respectively, Pasuwa believes his team can pull a surprise in Gabon.
“We had the chance to see Senegal and they are a team that easily gets frustrated and I think we can fare well at Afcon. They also use power play. Algeria also lost, but they are a very attacking team,” Pasuwa said.
The Warriors were dominant from the onset, looking comfortable on the ball with Marvelous Nakamba the stand out player in midfield.
The hosts took a deserved lead when Musona applied a cool finish from a set up by Mushekwi.
The visitors could have pulled one back two minutes later, but were denied by goalkeeper, Tatenda Mukuruva with a superb save.
Belgium based Mbwana Samatta, who had a good game, came close to levelling matters on 27 minutes, but Mukuruva stretched his legs to thwart his effort off a cross from Himid Mkami.
The Warriors then doubled their lead on 54 minutes, with Rusike unleashing a rasping shot that hit the roof of the net, profiting from yet another set up by Mushekwi.
Three minutes later, Mushekwi put himself on the scoresheet with a trademark diving header from a cross by Musona.
Pasuwa then introduced Khama Billiat and Tendai Ndoro for Rusike and Mushekwi respectively on 59 minutes, as he sought to give them a run out.
The two immediately combined with Billiat sending a beautiful cross that Ndoro somehow missed, as the Warriors continued to attack relentlessly.
Tino Kadewere was given his debut for the Warriors on 68 minutes, as Pasuwa continued to assess his options.
Cuthbert Malajila, Bruce Kangwa and Oscar Machapa were also given a run-out.
While admitting that his charges were outwitted, Tanzania coach, Charles Mkwasa, said the Warriors still needed to work harder if they are to make an impression at Afcon.
“The game was good. Zimbabwe have been together for some time and they capitalised on our mistakes. We learnt something from Zimbabwe. But they have to work hard. Our team was very weak and they will meet stronger teams at Afcon,” he warned.
Zimbabwe Squad: T Mukuruva, H Zvirekwi (O Machapa, 75’), T Hadebe, D Phiri, O Bhasera (B Kangwa, 75’), W Katsande, M Nakamba, M Rusike (K Billiat, 59’), K Musona (T Kadewere, 68’), K Mahachi (C Malajila, 75’), N Mushekwi (TNdoro, 59’).