BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS interim coach Norman Mapeza is unsure about his future with the national senior men’s team after Zimbabwe were held by Ethiopia at the National Sports Stadium yesterday to complete their 2022 Fifa World Cup Group G qualification campaign without a win.
Mapeza succeeded Croatian Zdravko Logarušic, who was fired after picking a point from the two matches he took charge, a goalless draw against South Africa and a 1-0 defeat to yesterday’s opponent.
He was given a short-term contract with a mandate to salvage the campaign.
But of the four matches that he presided over, the Warriors managed just a single point from a possible 12, scoring twice and conceding six goals.
His team lost to Ghana (twice) and South Africa once.
His mantra was that he was building a team for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals set for Cameroon in January.
But when asked during yesterday’s post-match conference what could be his ideal situation to further prepare the team for the Afcon finals, Mapeza refused to be drawn to talk about his future or confirm whether he would be in charge of the team in Cameroon.
“It’s unfortunate my contract runs out after these four games. I can’t talk of any preparations because I don’t know where I would be tomorrow so I can’t be talking about preparations for now,” Mapeza said.
He reckons that there has been some improvement in the manner the team is playing since he took over.
“The guys did well despite having a few days of recovery. We knew we were playing a very good team which is comfortable on the ball and you can tell by the way they were passing the ball around that they have been together for quite some time. But we did well and managed to control them, especially in the first half. They never had an opportunity in the first half, then came second half, I think we were on the back foot. In football, when you go to halftime leading definitely the opponent will come at you.
“We were supposed to do better in terms of game management. However, I am proud of these boys. I think ever since I came in, there has been some improvements. It is just a matter of time, but I believe they can do better as time goes on.”
Mapeza made five changes to the team that started against South Africa on Thursday. He handed 20-year-old Germany-based Jonah Fabisch his debut in the senior national team.
The youngster had been called for national duty thrice, but was yet to get an opportunity.
He had a decent performance in the 30 minutes that he was on the pitch after replacing Khama Billiat.
The Warriors’ first real chance fell to Ishamel Wadi after 28 minutes when a flick by Alec Mudimu from a corner kick fell his way, but the winger side-footed the ball over the bar.
With the clock ticking towards half-time, Kuda Mahachi gave the home side a lead when he fired into an empty net after a defensive mix up by the Ethiopians.
The visitors pushed forward in the second half and Gibeto Kebede hit the bar on the 50th minute before Ayele Selemon forced a good save from goalkeeper Taimon Mvula moments later after the defence had been split open.
Their pressure eventually paid off when Amir Nasir was put clean through and rounded off Mvula before taping the ball into an empty net.
It could have been worse for the hosts a minute later when Ethiopia’s menacing number 10 again found himself with acres of space inside the box, but he dragged his shot wide.
Ethiopia finished the game strongly and Syoum Tamene should have won it for the visitors in added time when he ran clear, but shot wide.
Zimbabwe: T Mvula, K Billiat (J Fabisch, 54′), B Kangwa, G Takwara, A Mudimu, G Murwira, K Madzongwe, T Kamusoko, K Mahachi (G Chimwemwe, 65′), I Wadi, D Moyo (K Mutizwa, 80′)
Ethiopia: B Shanko, G Kebede, A Reshad, D Kebebe (T Yalew, 70′), M Yusef, T Asrat, G Amanuel, K Hayder (M Bezabih, 70′), G Belele, D Hutessa, A Nasir
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