BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN BAFASSOUM, CAMEROON
WARRIORS coach Norman Mapeza was left disappointed with the team’s defeat to Malawi in their Africa Cup of Nations clash on Friday, but drew positives from the debacle.
The Warriors were booted out of the tournament following their defeat as they cannot finish higher than the basement of their pool.
Zimbabwe play Guinea on Tuesday and even if they win they cannot be placed higher than Malawi, who have three points going into the final round of matches.
Guinea and Senegal both have four points and both look home and dry, but will be looking to clinch top spot.
The competition rules state that in the event that teams finish with the same number of points, the head to head result will be the tie breaker.
Mapeza said that the experience that new players in the team got from this tournament is one of the positives.
“It’s disappointing that we lost the two matches against Senegal and Malawi, but there are a number of positives we can take from it,” he said.
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“We have got a number of players that are playing this tournament for the first time and this experience will be good for them,” he added in a subdued voice as he struggled to come to terms with the reality that it was all over the team.
The former Warriors captain said that they would regroup and approach the Tuesday match with a positive mind.
“We are going to approach that match with a positive mind to try and get something.”
Zimbabwe yesterday moved from their base in Bafassoum to Yaounde where they will clash with Guinea.
Reflecting on the match against Malawi, whose result came as a shock and disappointment to the fans, Mapeza said the biggest undoing was the failure to utilize chances, particularly in the first half.
“We gave away soft goals, we failed on game management after we had scored in the first half, only to conceded four minutes later and with two minutes to go to half time. For their second goal it was a soft one, the defender was dispossessed and they scored. But our main problem was the failure to utilize chances especially in the first half. I think Malawi never got a shot on target until they scored.”
Mapeza’s contract runs out at the end of the tournament and it’s not clear whether he will look to continue.
Administrative issues also make the issue more complicated especially with the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) on a clean-up exercise added to the Zifa councilors’ effort to get rid of the executive committee.
Tongues are already wagging about the technical team as well as about players. The defeat to Malawi triggered conversation on senior players getting shipped out to pave way for younger players.
Mapeza has not been sparred for blame and the authorities will have to act fast considering that the Afcon 2023 qualifiers start in March.
Zimbabwe needs to have its house in order by the time the qualifiers start.