The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda in Harare
Zimbabwe 1-1 Ethiopia
ZIMBABWE on Sunday came excruciatingly close to picking up their only win in the 2022 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers second round only to concede a goal with three minutes left, which saw them draw against Ethiopia at the National Sports Stadium.
The stalemate saw Zimbabwe finish bottom of the group with just two points secured from the 0-0 draw against neighbours South Africa in September and yesterday’s draw with Ethiopia. Zimbabwe have now gone 11 matches without tasting victory since their last win over Botswana in March, a 1-0 triumph in Francistown which secure qualification to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Kudakwashe Mahachi gave Zimbabwe the lead in the 39th minute and the Warriors were in front for better parts of the match before they conceded in the 87th minute when Abubeker Nasir Ahmed found the target for the visitors.
Mahachi hit the target from outside the box after Ethiopian goalkeeper Teklemariam Balcha cleared a back pass by Ahmed Abebo and the ball fell for the SuperSport United left footer who riffled into an empty net.
Zimbabwe thought they had finally secured their first win only for Ahmed to be put through by Habtamu Tekeste. Ahmed rounded off Zimbabwean keeper Taimon Mvula to score the equaliser for Ethiopia.
Norman Mapeza, the man brought in to oversee Zimbabwe’s last four World Cup qualifier fixtures put down the team’s failure to win to lack of game management on the part of his players.
“It was all about game management, it was only three minutes to go, instead of trying to play that ball inside, just put it down the line, it was only about game management, that’s the most painful part. After working so hard, after looking so much organised then we concede in the last few minutes of the game,’’ Mapeza said.
He felt that his team did well despite having few days recovery time after returning from South Africa.
“I think the guys did well despite them having some few days of recovery, I think we started the game well, we know we were playing a very good team which is very comfortable on the ball, a team which can pass the ball around very well and you can tell from the passing game that they have been together for quite some time,’’ he said.
For Mapeza, the Warriors could have won the match had there been better decision making in the final third and he is optimistic about the future.
“We had some very good moments where we had some breakaways, three four times, its only about good decision making, we could have buried this game. Good decision making in the final third, we could have won the game but it’s a learning process for some of these guys, its work in progress, what we need is for us to have more time with them then we see what happens in the future,’’ he said.
Khama Billiat, the Warriors captain was of the view that the team did well against opponents who seemed comfortable on the ball.
“It was not easy, it’s a good side, they very comfortable on the ball, they have been together for quite a long time and I think we did well, we tried to stay together like we have been told to by the coaches and we try to work on at training, it’s a learning process,’’ Billiat said.
Mapeza was brought in by the Zimbabwe Football Association on an interim basis after Zdravko Logarusic was fired in September. With little time left before next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, the FC Platinum coach could be asked to take the take to Afcon.
When asked about the future, Mapeza, whose contract was for three months had this to say “It’s unfortunate my contract runs after these four games so I can’t talk of any preparations because I don’t know where I am going to be tomorrow so I can’t talk of any preparations for now.”
Zifa are now expected to provide direction on whether Mapeza and his technical team takes the Warriors to Cameroon or new coaches are being appointed for that assignment.
Zimbabwe: T Mvula, G Murwira, I Wadi, B Kangwa, A Mudimu, K Billiat (Fabisch 55 mins), K Madzongwe, D Moyo (Mutizwa 80 mins), G Takwara, T Kamusoko, K Mahachi (Chimwemwe 62 mins)
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