Zimbabwe’s dream of going beyond the group stage of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) was buried at 30 June Stadium on Sunday, a day which was ironically and cruelly also June 30.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
As football fans go through the wreckage of the Warriors’ early and embarrassing exit from the tournament, following the Sunday night’s 4-0 drubbing by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), they should look no further than their second group game against Uganda on June 26 at the Cairo International Stadium.
That was the day their dream died. Thereafter, the Warriors were dead men walking.
Following the Egypt defeat in the opening match of the tournament, the Warriors won many admirers, but at such grand stages, a team needs to win matches and not praise alone.
This was a perfect opportunity for the Warriors to respond. But they turned out to be the masters of their own downfall, missing chance after chance in a game which was theirs for the taking.
Skipper Knowledge Musona who has often stepped up when it matters most, turned villain.
The Belgium-based forward missed three glorious chances, including one that hit the underside of the cross bar.
Substitute Evans Rusike thought he had found the back of the net to seal victory after Khama Billiat’s equaliser, but goalkeeper Dennis Onyango quickly recovered to scoop the ball from the line.
A win against Uganda would have given them both the confidence and a boost going into the final group game against the DRC. As they warmed up to face the DRC, confidence deficit was there for all to see.
The Warriors’ campaign at this tournament was characterised by threats to boycott matches as players pressed for the payment of their dues.
Following all the talk, all the hype and all the promise, all the fizz has suddenly disappeared and replaced by finger-pointing and blame games.
At the end of it all, they return home with a single point and a single goal after three matches.
Football wise it was by no means a successful hunt, but for the players it was a bountiful expedition as they will also be smiling all the way to their banks to collect a loot of over US$25 000 each.