BY Kevin Mapasure
France-based Warriors midfielder Marshall Munetsi was pleased the team managed to confound critics and qualify for the group stages of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers with a hard-fought 3-1 win in a tie that took Zimbabwe fans through an emotional roller coaster through the 90-plus minutes at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
For long, Zimbabwe struggled to break their opponents’ defence, so much that at some point it looked like the visitors would break their guests’ hearts.
Late goals from Munetsi (77 minutes), substitute Knox Mutizwa (87 minutes) and Khama Billiat (92 minutes), however, salvaged Zimbabwe’s campaign as well as
their pride considering that they had lost 1-0 in the first leg played in Djibouti.
The Warriors indeed breathed a sigh of relief considering that the match was tied at 1-all with five minutes to play and Zimbabawe looking on their way out
until Mutizwa hammered in from a free-kick before Billiat lifted the gloom in the stadium with a stoppage time left footed super strike. Munetsi was happy that
the team proved their critics wrong.
He admitted that the visitors had given them a tough time, however, only in as much as they were proving difficult to break down as they sat to try and protect
“They were a tough team, a tough opponent. They made it very difficult for us out there and I don’t think they deserve the low ranking that they are currently
on because they are much better than that,” Munetsi observed.
“I am feeling great that we have qualified. We put in a good shift; it’s good for the boys. People were criticising us too much that we lost to a lowly team
and it’s good for us that we won and progressed to the next stage.”
While Billiat emerged the hero at the end with that brilliant individual effort, it was Munetsi who was the more impressive over the course of the match with
his powerful runs that often cut open the visitors’ defence line.
Also putting in a good shift was Turkey-based centreback Teenage Hadebe, who was pleased for both Alec Mudimu, who made the mistake that gifted the visitors
their goal later on as well as goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze who had been vilified following his errors that led to Zimbabwe’s defeat at the Africa Cup of Nations
finals against the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He too acknowledged that the team was made to sweat for their victory yesterday.
“It was tough for us. I am happy with the way we fought to get the result. We felt down when they (Somalia) scored, my captain (Mudimu) made an error, but I am
happy that we managed to recover from that and we are happy we won the game for the nation,” Hadebe said.
“In modern football, there are no more small teams; we saw that over the two matches we played with Somalia. Credit to them, they gave us a tough match. I
almost cried when Khama scored and I am happy that Chipezeze managed to recover; it was a tough time for him after what happened in Egypt, but he managed it
well and kept cool and composed today.”