BY HENRY MHARA
Zimbabwe . . . . . . . . . . . 0
Ghana . . . . . . . . . . . . (1)1
WARRIORS coach Norman Mapeza has threatened to wield the axe on his underperforming stars after the team fell 1-0 to Ghana yesterday to crash out of the World Cup qualifying campaign.
Ghana’s Arsenal star Thomas Partey scored a freekick on the half hour mark as the Black Stars completed a double over the Warriors following their 3-1 win in the reverse fixture three days earlier.
Warriors goalkeeper Talbert Shumba, preferred ahead of Washington Arubi, didn’t cover himself in glory for the goal as he allowed Partey’s harmless-looking set piece to arrow straight between his hands into the back of the net.
The defeat means Zimbabwe remain bottom of Group G with one point from their opening four and are effectively out of the qualifying race for a ticket to Qatar World Cup next year.
Mapeza, who was appointed to revive the World Cup campaign, was left disappointed after overseeing his charges fell for the second time to the same opponent inside a week.
“I promised the country that I will try my level best to revive the World Cup campaign but now everything is out of our hands,” Mapeza said.
He, however, said there were some positives that he picked from the two games, although a lot of people would disagree with this assessment.
When pressed to list the positives that he picked from the match, Mapeza said: “We had so many opportunities today and in the last game we also created some opportunities. For me when I’m building a team, there are some things that I will be looking for and if they are OK, those are the positives on my side. We had so many corner kicks, but it was the execution which was missing. But those are the positives that I’m talking about.”
The Warriors had one shot on target in the whole match, a pot shot from a freekick by Knowledge Musona in the first half.
“It was a good game of football and I’m proud of my boys. They worked so hard. But once again they gave away a soft goal and it was the deciding factor in the outcome of this match, but my boys did very well. It’s work in progress and we will keep working hard, we are not giving up,” Mapeza said.
He threatened to drop all the players who failed to come to the party for the remaining two deadrubber qualifiers against South Africa and Ethiopia next month — two matches he said will be used to prepare a team for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals next year.
“I’m happy because I saw what I wanted to see and when we are going for the last two matches then I know who to pick and who not to pick.”
“The team showed some positives and we now have to work hard in the remaining two matches and try to build a team that can go and play at the Afcon tournament,” said Mapeza whose contract ends in December.
The former Warriors captain was also forced to defend his keeper Shumba after his horror show.
“I was a footballer before and I used to make mistakes as well, but my coaches never dropped me out of the team. He (Shumba) needs to be encouraged and if we are going to drop him because of that mistake, it’s like I will be sacrificing him. I’m not like that. This is football and mistakes are bound to happen. It wasn’t his day today, he made that mistake. But I’m proud of what he did, he never looked down and kept on playing.”
The Warriors coach made six changes to the team that started in Ghana on Saturday, with Shumba, Brendan Galloway, Rahman Kutsanzira, Alec Mudimu, Khama Billiat and Terrence Dzvukamanja all given a chance in the starting 11.
They started the match brightly and could have taken an early lead, but Jordan Zemura’s cutback found no takers.
Musona’s freekick nearly troubled Ghana keeper who needed a double block to get it under control.
The hosts should have taken the lead on 24th minute but Kelvin Madzongwe failed to connect a Musona cross.
Six minutes later, they were punished for that miss when Partey’s freekick somehow eluded Shumba.
The veteran goalkeeper was saved further blashes by Dzvukamanja, who cleared off the line after he had failed to cut out a corner.
Ghana’s dangerman Mohammed Kudus then hit the bar early in the second half after a mistake by Teenage Hadebe in what was the only meaningful action of the second half by both sides.
Zimbabwe: T Shumba, R Kutsanzira, B Galloway, A Mudimu, T Hadebe, J Zemura (P Chikwende, 70’), K Billiat (K Mahachi, 85’), K Madzongwe, M Nakamba, K Musona, T Dzvukamanja (K Mutizwa, 63’)
Ghana: W Joseph, D Amartey, B Rahman, A Djiku, J Mensah, B Addrisu (J Aidoo, 75’), T Partey, K Suleymana (D Kyereh, 60’), J Ayew (O Kwame, 83’), M Kudus (A Ayew, 83’), B Tetteh (G Mensah, 83’)
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