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Somalia match delay benefits Warriors


BY Kevin Mapasure

THE Warriors could be the biggest beneficiaries of the postponement of their 2022 preliminary round World Cup qualifier against Somalia as the delay gives them time to strategise.

The match has now been rescheduled for the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Tuesday after it was moved from Barbourfields, where it would have been played tomorrow.

The East African nation stunned the Warriors 1-0 on Thursday evening in a match played in Djibouti and with Joey
Antipas’ side reeling and in need of a win by a margin of at least two goals to progress to the next stage, they
will need more time to prepare for this one.

Due to the scheduling of the match, the Warriors failed to gather on time to conduct any training session as
they met in Djibouti a day before the match.

They would have arrived back home today to play Somalia tomorrow, but the postponement has given Antipas and his
assistant Lloyd Chitembwe more time to work out a winning formula.

The 1-0 defeat came as a shock and surprise to many, considering Somalia are the lowest-ranked side in Africa.

Besides lack of preparation, other factors that contributed to Zimbabwe’s poor showing include playing on an
articial surface and missing a number of goal-scoring opportunities.

When they walk out to try and save the tie at the National Sports Stadium on Tuesday, they will have the luxury
of playing in front of a partisan crowd, but one that could exert more pressure on them the longer they take to
find the first goal.

The technical team must be the happiest lot, at least over the extra time the postponement of the second leg has
afforded them.

Before they left for Djibouti, Antipas complained about the lack of preparations, but was still hopeful of a
positive result. Considering that Antipas is only coming in as a new coach to assemble a group of players that
has not been playing together, he would have needed more time to prepare his charges for that match.

Most of the players who were regulars at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt just over two months ago
were left out of the squad picked for this two-legged tie.

Antipas declined to disclose reasons for the axing of some of the players, while Zifa had already hinted that it
had blacklisted certain individuals they deemed saboteurs following clashes with the association at Afcon in
Egypt in June. Some of them were dearly missed in Djibouti, particularly in the frontline as Zimbabwe struggled
to put away chances against a team that didn’t offer much until it somehow stole the match towards full-time.

Knox Mutizwa and Kuda Mahachi, who both travelled to Egypt and were barely used, will be kicking themselves that
they didn’t put away the glorious chances that came their way.

Antipas’ work is cut out for him ahead of the decisive second leg as he will be looking to sharpen his attack as
he seeks a harvest of goals that would confound any doubts about this class.

Defender Peter Muduhwa bemoaned the fluffing of chances, but is optimistic of a reversal when they play at home
on Tuesday.

“It was a good game; we unfortunately failed to convert our chances and got punished in the dying minutes. What
is next? We need to remain focused, work on our weaknesses and get a positive result at home,” he said.

Wales-based Alec Mudimu believes they have enough quality to bounce back. “We have enough quality to bounce
back and get that important win we need for our nation. So, please, let us ask that we stick together and
continue to encourage and support throughout. The best is yet to come,” he said.

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