BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS coach Sunday Chidzambga has defended his team’s style of play in their 2-0 win over Congo Brazzaville at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday, a victory that secured them qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
Zimbabwe dominated the first half and were rewarded with goals by Khama Billiat, who curled in a beautiful free-kick before captain Knowledge Musona sealed the victory with a half volley from outside the penalty area.
The second half was not as pretty as the first and the gaffer, who is known for his defensive style, faced criticism for the limited ambition.
But Chidzambga defended his tactics, arguing that winning, and in this particular occasion, qualification, was all that mattered to him.
“What people should realise is that sometime in football, you have to play for a result, which we did. We played for a result, we played to qualify. We didn’t play to entertain and we qualified,” Chidzambga said in his post-match interview.
The veteran coach said he decided to “close shop” in the second half after realising that some of his players were tired.
“In the first half, we realised that our opponents’ strategy was to try and outpace us on the flanks and also they used the high balls to their strikers. We had to defend well and fortunate enough we scored the two chances that came our way, and it ended up in a two-goal situation. In the second half, they created problems for us which we nearly failed to rectify. They had two strikers and were pumping those high balls, so with my technical team we realised that some of our players were tired and we decided to try and close shop and finish the game at that score.
“I wouldn’t say in the second half we created chances. They are the ones who created one very good chance which they missed, but both teams as far as I’m concerned didn’t create many scoring chances (in the second half).”
This is the second time that Chidzambga has led the Warriors to the Afcon finals, having previously guided them to the 2004 tournament, the first time that the senior men’s team qualified to the continental showpiece.
His impressive curriculum vitae also includes five Cosafa Cup triumphs and remains the only coach to have guided a local club to the finals of the Caf Champions League with Dynamos.
Nevertheless, he has often been at the receiving end concerning his defensive tactics.
Chidzambga also thanked the supporters who thronged the stadium to witness the team’s final push, with a capacity crowd watching the game.
“I want to thank the supporters who came in their thousands to support the team. They never jeered the team and I’m happy for that. Before the game, we said we will dedicate it to the Cyclone Idai victims and fortunately the game came our way.”