By Kevin Mapasure
The Warriors will be targeting a win when they take on Malawi in their second Group B Africa Cup of Nations encounter in Bafassoum, Cameroon on Friday.
Zimbabwe’s suffered a heart breaking loss to Group favourites Senegal, following a late penalty converted by Sadio Mane, in a match they were seemingly content with a share of points.
A point would have enhanced their chances of qualifying to the last 16 with coach Norman Mapeza saying they are targeting a minimum of four points to guarantee themselves passage to the knockouts.
After seeing his team come out with nothing following a good fight, Mapeza has switched focus to Malawi and will try to improve conversion upfront.
“Now we focus on our next game against Malawi,” Mapeza said.
“We are just going to work on our conversion rate. I think we did a lot in the final third where we had some good opportunities (against Senegal). We also had some opportunities on set pieces.
“I am proud of my boys. We worked so hard. Our minds are now on the game against Malawi where I think we need to give our all so that we can get maximum points because I think if we can manage to get 4 points we will get to the round of 16. That is where much of our focus will be against Malawi.”
Malawi lost their first match to Guinea and they too will be kicking themselves after wasting some good scoring opportunities.
They will also be thinking that their best hope of collecting maximum points will be against Zimbabwe.
Malawi have roped in Kalisto Pasuwa as a consultant and they will be looking to milk his intimate knowledge of the Zimbabwe players.
The former Dynamos midfielder and then mentor coached the Warriors at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Gabon and before that presided over two wins against Malawi while in the Zimbabwe dug out.
Mapeza will be looking to see his charges pick up from where they left against Senegal, but Zimbabwe will likely be more ambitious in their approach.
“Credit goes to my boys. I think we played very well. Nobody gave us a chance against a quality team like Senegal,” Mapeza said after the match. “If you look at the names in their squad, most of their guys are playing for top European clubs.
I think we had some moments where we controlled the game. Luck wasn’t on our side. Credit to my boys, I think they worked their socks off.”
Having been questioned for leaving out Lyon striker Tino Kadewere on the bench until the beginning of the second half, Mapeza defended his selection.
“It’s unfortunate we have a 23-man squad. I should give credit to those guys which I selected today. We have got guys who came from Europe and they only joined the squad with 5 days to go, but the rest of those guys [trained together] for about 10 days. So, I don’t think I made any wrong decision in selecting those guys who started today. I think they did well.”
After Malawi on Friday, Zimbabwe’s last Group match will be against Guinea on Tuesday.
The top two teams from each Group qualify for the next round while four third placed finishers will join them.