HomeSportSoccerWarriors’ ambition surprised us: Algeria

Warriors’ ambition surprised us: Algeria

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ALGERIA coach, Georges Leekens has admitted that he was caught off guard by Warriors coach, Kalisto Pasuwa’s tactics, where he set out his team to play with so much ambition, which pegged back the Desert Foxes in the first half of their opening Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group B football match played here on Sunday.

BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN FRANCEVILLE, Gabon

Warriors midfielder, Danny Phiri clears the ball under the challenge from Riyad Mahrez
Warriors midfielder, Danny Phiri clears the ball under the challenge from Riyad Mahrez

Zimbabwe recovered from an early first half Riyad Mahrez opener to go to the break leading 2-1 after goals from Kuda Mahachi and Nyasha Mushekwi, who converted a penalty.

Mahrez then rescued his team, levelling matters with a speculative shot that goalkeeper, Tatenda Mukuruva should have saved.

The Warriors enjoyed a lot of the ball possession in the first half and created a lot of chances against the North Africans, who went into the match, as favourites.

“In the first half, Zimbabwe were playing going forward a lot and that came as a surprise to us,” Leekens said.

The Algeria coach, however, was not surprised by Zimbabwe’s capabilities, though, as it was something he had spoken about and reiterated this after the match.

“We knew before the match that they were capable of causing some surprises, we just didn’t want it to happen to us. I knew they were a good side. We knew this match would be as difficult as any and the competitiveness did not surprise us at all.”

Warriors talisman, Khama Billiat was denied a spectacular 30-yard goal by an outstanding finger-tip save from Algeria goalkeeper, Rais Mbholi, who diverted the ball on to the post early on.

Mbholi thwarted Billiat more than once and also produced a brilliant save with his leg to keep out Cuthbert Malajila’s shot, when the score was 2-1 to the Warriors. Mahachi was also troublesome for the Algerian defence, while Mushekwi held up play superbly.

Leekens had expected the Warriors to sit back in the hope of catching Algeria on the break, but Pasuwa surprised him, as Zimbabwe went pound-for-pound with the star-studded side in a match that ended in a 2-all draw.

Despite falling behind early, the Willard Katsande-captained side played with confidence pushing numbers forward, something that Algeria had not anticipated. Fullback, Onisimor Bhasera won Zimbabwe a 28th minute penalty after he was felled in the box.

Zimbabwe, making their first appearance at the finals since 2006, will perhaps count themselves unlucky after playing some excellent football on Sunday.

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