BY FORTUNE MBELE
MALAWI . . . . . . . .0
ZIMBABWE . . . . . 0
THE writing was always on the wall for the Warriors. At least it wasn’t a defeat, but even the draw against Malawi somehow felt like a defeat following the uninspiring goalless draw against The Flames in an international friendly at Mpira Stadium in Blantyre yesterday.
The Warriors failed to bring in the majority of their foreign-based players, who included key players in skipper Knowledge Musona, striker Tino Kadewere, Marshall Munetsi, Tendai Darikwa, Kundai Benyu, Macauley Bonne, Jordan Zemura, Adam Chicksen and Prince Dube.
These are the players that coach Zdravko Logarusic intends to use for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Algeria next month.
Their replacements from South Aftica and Zambia and a few locals did not justify their inclusion in the squad that faced Malawi in a match that produced less than five shots on target, and just three corner-kicks.
Star player Khama Billiat and striker Charlton Mashumba were each ruled offside once in the first half and that was just about it.
In a pre-match interview, Logarusic had said they would try their best in the circumstances.
“We will try our best. Emotions are part of this. We have to enjoy and make sure we play the game and avoid injuries as both teams are preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations. We did not have proper preparations, but we have to adjust ourselves and do our best,” he said.
But the poor preparations were evident in the game as the Warriors lacked confidence.
As early as the second minute, a defensive lapse saw Schumacher Kuwali being the first to test the visiting goalkeeper Talbert
Marvelous Nakamba and left back Devine Lunga appeared to be the only players in the game, with playmaker Billiat totally shut out in the centre and was brought down four times in good positions, but the Warriors wasted all their set pieces.
Shumba otherwise had a good afternoon.
Precious Sambani, who troubled the Warriors from the centre, could have scored for The Flames eight minutes into the game, but his strike went off target after a string of passes from a more composed Malawian side, which has been together for some time and lost to Zambia in another friendly match a few days ago.
Gabadinho Mango, the South African top league Golden Boot winner, had his effort from a free-kick cleared away for a corner in the 14th minute.
Sloppy defending once again from Teenage Hadebe almost cost the Warriors five minutes later, but the lethal Mhango was penalised for a handball inside the box by Malawian referee Gift Chicco, who otherwise handled the match well.
Going into the half-hour mark, the Warriors had settled in well, but with the midfield lacking fluidity and Billiat tightly monitored, there were no purposeful moves on the offensive.
Six minutes before the break, Malawi’s Idana Chimwemwe missed a sitter with Shumba drawn off the line, skying his effort a few metres from the yawning goalmouth.
The Warriors’ first attempt at goal came in the 41st minute, but Mashumba’s weak effort did not trouble the hosts’ goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe.
A minute before the breather, Mhango was at it again, twisting and turning the Warriors defence before he sailed his effort over the cross-bar from inside the box.
The first corner-kick for the Warriors came two minutes from the break and an in-swinger by Billiat found an alert Kakhobwe with substitute Evans Katema on the prowl.
Malawi’s United States-based Yamikani Chester hit the side netting in the 62nd minute from a Sambani cross, while Billiat blasted the ball over the bar nine minutes later.
Malawi: E Kakhobwe, S Sanudi, C Petro, P Cholopi, P Sambani, C Chikoti (K Chimango 61’), I Chimwemwe (R Mbulu, 70’), Y Chester (G Phiri Jr, 69’), S Kuwali (Mician Mhone, 86’), J Banda, G Mhango (A Maliselo, 90+2’)
Zimbabwe: T Shumba, M Phiri, D Lunga, A Mudimu (J Dzingai, 76’), T Hadebe, M Nakamba, G Chimwemwe (K Nadolo, 55’), T Chinyahara (W Taderera, 80’), C Mashumba (E Katema, 46’), K Billiat (I Nekati, 89’), T Rusike