Molepolole — HASTILY assembled Zimbabwe found the going tough when they fell to hosts Botswana in a Three-nation invitational tournament at the Molelopolele stadium last night.
A solitary second half strike by Township Rollers forward Tebogo Sibhowa was all the Zebras needed to overcome a Warriors outfit that travelled for the tournament in batches after being hastily assembled at the weekend.
Coach Rahman Gumbo had to make do with a restricted selection following an agreement between Zifa and the Premier Soccer League that the tournament would not disrupt the domestic top-flight which reached its halfway mark at the weekend.
Gumbo had last week named a 21-man side of locals with the trio of striker Abbas Amidu, midfielder Denver Mukamba and defender Arnold Chaka the only foreign-based players.
But by the time the Warriors embarked on their road trip from Harare to Gaborone, 13 of those players were not on the bus as they had to complete their club duties before following their teammates just in time for the game which kicked off at 7pm.
The likes of Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, the CAPS United trio of Hardlife Zvirekwi, Tapiwa Kumbhuyani and Rahman Kutsanzira eventually failed to travel.
But Shabanie Mine hitman Nelson Mazivisa and the Hwange attacking duo of Rodwell Chinyengetere and Francisco Zvikumbaware who were still holed up in the country at the weekend as they had to fulfill Premiership duties at their clubs arrived just hours before last night's match.
The travel arrangement meant that that the Warriors could not train together before last night's game and inevitably they fell to a Zebras outfit which draws most of its players from their domestic league.
In fact Gumbo was also forced to make some changes after indications that such players like Mukamba who is on the verge of completing his switch from Dynamos to Bidvest Wits in South Africa and Amidu, would not make the trip.
The former FC Platinum coach then included winger Mandlenkosi Sibanda who plies his trade in Botswana with BMC for his second Warriors cap.
Mandlenkosi Sibanda made his Warriors debut against Burundi in Bujumbura but had disappeared from the radar when Zifa cleared more players from the Asiagate scam.
The Botswana Football Association arranged the tournament in order to give the Zebras a platform to prepare for their final 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Mali while the Warriors had been hoping to do the same ahead of their game against Angola.
But the team that lined up against the Zebras was more of a third string Warriors with only two or three of them likely to make the side that will face the Palancas Negras in September.
Botswana were the first to settle in last night's match but it was the Warriors who had the first attempt on goal when Chicken Inn's Danny Phiri saw his effort go just wide in the fifth minute.
Ten minutes later Monomotapa midfielder Brian Mapfumo had his well taken shot saved by Zebras goalkeeper Noah Maphosa.
In the 17th minute poor communication between Khumbulani Banda and goalkeeper Marlon Jani almost gifted the hosts with a goal but striker Penyo Mogala missed the target with an open goal yawning before him.
Half an hour into the match Charles Sibanda got to the end of a fine cross from right back Passmore Bernard but Maphosa was on guard. As the Warriors kept probing, they found Maphosa alert with the Zebras 'keeper once again denying Charles Sibanda's effort.
In the 39th minute Mapfumo brought down Mogala and from the resultant free-kick Michael Mogathi's header crashed against the upright with Jani a beaten man.
Early into the second half the Zebras got what turned out to be the winner when Sibhowa beat Jani with a low shot from the far right. The Warriors will now play Lesotho tonight in their second and final game before returning home on Thursday.
BFA chief executive officer, Duncan Kgame said they were contemplating the inclusion of the national Under 20 team to make it four teams.
"We are contemplating including our Under 20 for it to be the fourth team. If the other teams agree, we will take the Under 20s." Kgame said.
He stressed the importance of pre- paring the team for the Nations Cup qualifier against Mali saying, "it would be upsetting to be mere spectators when our neighbours, South Africa, host the AFCON next year."
"If I was in control of everything, I would stop everything to focus on the Mali game. The stadium that we are going to use in Mali is a 50 000 seater and if I had the powers, I would tell people to help me reach the target of 10 000 fans to go there with the team," he said.
M. Jani. P. Bernard, K Banda, G. Moyo, A. Chaka, B. Mapfumo, D. Phiri, M. Sibanda, F. Zvikumbaware (R. Chitiyo 65th minute), R. Chinyengetere, C. Sibanda (N. Mazivisa 56th minute)
Botswana - 1
Zimbabwe - 0