Zimbabwe are hoping to put behind a horrid World Cup qualifying campaign at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations as they picked up only two points from a possible 18 in the African qualifiers.
The Warriors are gearing up for their sixth AFCON tournament. We will be consulting Overlyzer who are responsible for live soccer trends for leagues worldwide to evaluate their current form.
Zimbabwe were the whipping boys of their group in the World Cup 2022 qualifiers. They were grouped with Ghana, South Africa, and Ethiopia, but Zimbabwe managed only two points and finished dead last. Despite opening the group with a promising draw at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, they failed to pick up another point until the final game of the group. They took a walloping from every other team in the group.
Zimbabwe vs South Africa
Well, promising is a strong word for Zimbabwe’s performance against their neighbors South Africa to open their World Cup qualifying campaign. On 17 minutes, South Africa’s Teboho Mokoena tested goalkeeper Talbert Shumba with a rasping drive from range, but the Chapungu United shot-stopper was equal to it. Thirteen minutes later, Zimbabwe also made a good foray forward, and a good ball came to South African-based Khama Billiat, but the 31-year-old struck his shot over the bar.
In the second half, Bongokuhle Hlongwane should have squared to Percy Tau when Bafana Bafana had Zimbabwe on the ropes, but he took the shot himself. The ball squirmed under Shumba, but Gilroy Takudzwa Chimwemwe got back to clear the ball off the line. Tau had a shot saved in the later stages as Zimbabwe held on for a goalless draw.
In the return leg at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, Mokoena opened the scoring with a gorgeous 26th minute header. After the perceived nervousness of Shumba, coach Norman Mapeza chose Petros Mhari of FC Platinum as his new number 1 and the 32-year-old keeper made three brilliant saves to keep his side in the game in the second half, but Bafana Bafana still won the tie.
Zimbabwe vs Ghana
The Warriors lost convincingly in their two games against table-toppers Ghana. In the first leg, Mohamed Kudus opened the scoring in the fifth minute, but Zimbabwe stayed in it till they equalized early in the second half with a penalty from their skipper. Thomas Partey and Andre Ayew then scored to put the game to bed.
The second leg was more one-sided though as Ghana piled the pressure from start to finish. A Partey free-kick that went through the hands of Shumba was the game’s only goal as the goalkeeper had a horrific outing as he looked shaky and constantly misjudged balls into his box. Ajax star Kudus hit the frame of the goal early in the second half as it ended 0-1 in favor of the Black Stars.
Zimbabwe vs Ethiopia
Against Ethiopia, who also failed to win their first game, they were utterly dominated. However, they did create the first good chance of the game when Knowledge Musona drew a save from Fasil Gebremichael 21 minutes in, the captain had a second bite at the cherry but dragged his shot wide.
Shumba then had to get down and save a shot from distance eight minutes later. Ethiopia continued applying pressure into the second half when they forced Shumba into an early save before they fired over. Ramadan Yesuf was at the heart of the Ethiopia charge as Musona forced another fine save from Fasil Gebremichael who was winning their little duel. In the dying minutes of the game, Abubeker Nasir Ahmed showed good touch and forced a penalty when a Zimbabwean defender handled the ball. Aschalew Tamene Seyoum stepped up and netted the only goal of the game.
With both teams out of the running for Qatar 2022 by the return leg on Matchday 6, Zimbabwe hosted Ethiopia at the Nations Sports Stadium in Harare. Kudakwashe Mahachi gave Zimbabwe the lead with a scorching strike just before halftime, but Ethiopia denied them maximum points in the dying minutes of the game through Abubeker Nasir Ahmed.
Drastic Improvement needed
If Zimbabwe are going to have a chance at the 2022 AFCON tournament in Cameroon, they need to put on a better showing than their last ten games. They have no wins in their last eleven games and will be up against heavyweights Senegal but should find joy against fellow featherweights