Harare — THE Warriors' draw with Cape Verde in an African Cup of Nations qualifier on Sunday has been described as a farce by many football stakeholders who left the National Sports Stadium wearing long faces.
Parading the best pool of players possible for Zimbabwe at the moment, the Warriors dismally failed to deliver when it mattered most.
Maybe the turbulent scenes in the team's camp, and the failure of the Public Address system to play the Zimbabwe national anthem, was a premonition of the bad result for the Warriors.
The combinations simply failed to work.
While the Warriors failed to score, they played well as a solid unit in defence with Washington Arubi keeping a clean sheet while Onismor Bhasera, Noel Kaseke, Method Mwanjali and Thomas Sweswe kept it tight at the back.
Mali and Zimbabwe were touted as the top dogs when the draw for the competition was held for the pool, but the underdogs Cape Verde have taken control of the group.
Sunday's result left the Warriors under pressure to win their remaining games if they are to entertain any hopes of qualifying for the next Nations Cup finals.
Norman Mapeza, who directed operations from the touchline while Madinda Ndlovu took a back seat, was equally disappointed.
"Obviously everybody is disappointed. We definitely wanted to win this match at home but it was unfortunate that we failed to collect three points. We dominated the game and created scoring chances but we couldn't score," said Mapeza.
Cape Verde, who could pass for a Portugal development side as three quarters for the side play in the European country, were happy with the result.
"It was difficult playing in Zimbabwe but we played as a team. One point is good enough for us.
"We are now topping the group with four points from two matches. We beat Mali in the first game and we are going to try and win at home against Liberia in our next match," said Lucio Antunes, the Cape Verde coach
Zimbabwe vice-captain Method Mwanjali said they could have done better considering that they were playing at home.
"We should have utilised the home advantage factor. But these are the results that come in football and we should accept it.
"Now we need to win the remaining matches and we are already under pressure to deliver," said Mwanjali.
Edward Sadomba echoed the same sentiments.
"We should have won this match. It was a crucial game and we should have collected maximum points. We now have to put our focus on the next match," Sadomba said.
Veteran midfielder Esrom Nyandoro said the team failed to find their rhythm.
"Our game was in patches. We couldn't push more up front in the first half but we did better in the second.
"I feel the defence and the midfield were okay but we have to improve our finishing. It was disappointing to draw against Cape Verde because when you play at home you need to win and collect maximum points.
"But it's not over yet. We still have to soldier on in the remaining matches."
Tinashe Nengomasha who was not used in the game said Zimbabwe have a big task ahead in Mali.
"When you create chances you need to punish the opponents but we couldn't do that. We tried our best and I think it just wasn't our day.
"We need to step up our performance when we go to Mali because it's not going to be easy in West Africa. There is still a lot to fight for and we need to keep going," said Nengomasha
Warriors skipper Benjani Mwaruwari was overcome with emotion to comment on the game.
Benjani was substituted in the 65th minute with some supporters calling for his substitution in the first half.
After the Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet was asked to leave the country on Wednesday, co-coaches Norman Mapeza and Madinda Ndlovu failed to come up with a winning formula and their starting line up was questioned.
Former Warriors midfielder Edzai Kasinauyo questioned the use of long balls employed by the Warriors and the failure to make use of Fifa friendly dates.
"Cape Verde wanted a draw and the result has left them with strong chances of making it to the Nations Cup finals to be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
"If you look at our type of play, it was always going to be difficult to get a result. It would have been wise if we had used the team that played against Liberia.
"We lost the plot when our team concentrated on the long balls and it suited our opponents.
"When we were attacking, the players tried to attack using the midfield but we could not succeed, as Cape Verde had taller players.
"Esrom Nyandoro and Justice Majabvi cannot play in the same squad as both of them are defensive midfielders.
"This is one game where we had enough strikers, all playing outside the country and have experience and they should have done better.
"There is need to make use of Fifa friendly dates. It's important because the coaches must have enough time to come up with the right combinations," Kasinauyo said.
Rodwell Dhlakama, former Under-17 and Monomotapa mentor, said the Warriors had made life difficult for themselves.
"We played marginally well but the biggest let down was the failure by our strikers to convert the few chances that we created especially in the second half.
"If you do not win at home it's always difficult to get positive results playing away. Our next match is against Mali away and we have to summon all the experience to get maximum points.
"The first eleven thrown into the fray was okay except the gamble of using both Nyandoro and Majabvi, who both defensive midfielders, when we wanted goals.
"In both halves, our coaches used different strikers but both failed to deliver the goals.
"Cape Verde had tall defenders and our crosses were easily dealt with by our opponents," Dhlakama said.
Zifa vice president Ndumiso Gumede said their bungling in handling the Tom Saintfiet saga did not contribute to the poor show.
"The Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet's saga did not affect the players' performance. Morale was high in the camp after we addressed the players.
"When Saintfiet was asked to leave the country, the training programme was not affected until the coaches announced the final squad.
"Before we play our next encounter in March next year, we have taken into account the challenges we faced and we are going to address them."
Spencer Maungwa, Zimbabwe Nationals Soccer Supporters Association executive, said it was a sad day for our football.
"The chaos that unfolded in the past week, left many convinced that it would be difficult to secure a positive result against Cape Verde.
"During play one could see from the body language of the players that they were not in the right frame of mind.
"It's a disappointing result because we have failed to win at home. It will be difficult to win away when we face Mali.
"Zifa has to put their house in order if we are to entertain any hopes of qualifying for the finals.
"Supporters from across the country came in their droves to cheer the team in high spirits but in the end they left the stadium in tears," Maungwa said.
Facts and Figures
Zim C Verde
Scores 0 0
Shots on target 2 2
Shots off target 8 3
Headers on target 1 0
Headers off target 1 0
Corners 6 0
Offsides 3 1
Yellow cards 2 0
(T. Sweswe, K. Musona)
Red Cards 0 0
Fouls 10 8
Penalty kicks 0 0