The Herald (Harare)

15 October 2012

Zimbabwe: National Teams Cursed?

Photo: Confederation of African Football.
Zimbabwe senior soccer team

IT was a gloomy weekend for Zimbabwe sport when five national teams were all defeated in their various international assignments. Three football sides and two hockey teams took part in international matches over the weekend and they all ended up licking their wounds after the final whistles, maybe mirroring the terrible state of Zimbabwean sport.

Zimbabwe had the senior men's team -- The Warriors -- taking part in a crucial African Cup of Nations final leg qualifier against Angola in Luanda while the Under-17 played Congo-Brazzaville in an African Youth Championship.

The Mighty Warriors played South Africa in an international friendly tie while the men's and women's Under-21 hockey teams are playing at the Africa Nations Cup qualifiers in South Africa.

First to conspire and disappoint the nation was the women's hockey side who lost 0-2 to Kenya in their opening match in Randburg, South Africa, on Saturday. On the same day, their male counterparts were given an 11-0 hiding by hosts South Africa.

There was also no joy for the Mighty Warriors on their visit to South Africa as they lost 0-1 to Banyana Banyana at Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday evening.

Back home at Rufaro, the script was also the same as the national Under-17 side came unstuck against Congo.

The Young Warriors failed to utilise home advantage as they lost 2-1 at Rufaro on Saturday and now have a tall order in the reverse fixture in Brazzaville.

Yesterday, the hockey teams continued to sing the blues as the women lost 0-2 to Kenya while the men where whacked 14-1 by Egypt to emerge as the biggest losers after the opening two matches.

The Egyptian men exhibited some stunning individual skills and quick-passing teamwork to overwhelm Zimbabwe.

Arnold Mpofu had opened the scores for Zimbabwe with a superb individual effort. But the North Africans came from behind as Ahmed Gamal (5), Reda Ahmed (3), Ahmed Karem (2), Ahmed Mohsen (2), captain Amr Mohamed and Mostafa Mansour scored. Today will be a rest day for all the hockey teams at the final in Randburg and Zimbabwe will hope to restore the lost glory when the matches resume tomorrow.

Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Namibia and South Africa are fielding women's teams while Zimbabwe, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya have sent men's teams.

While the hockey teams, the Mighty Warriors and the Young Warriors have another day to fight, the biggest disappointment for the expectant nation came from the Warriors who lost 2-0 to Angola.

Zimbabwe failed to defend a seemingly healthy 3-1 lead from the first leg and were chasing the game early in the first half after a double strike from Manucho in Luanda yesterday.

The defeat means that Zimbabwe have crashed out of the African Nations Cup final for 2013 and will have to try their luck for 2015.

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