THE Warriors stumbled at the last hurdle falling in the dreaded lottery from what could have been a historic achievement in reaching the African Nations Championships (Chan) finals when they went down 5-4 to Libya in the semi-finals on Wednesday night.
It was a journey worth following — one that saw the Warriors reaching the last eight for the first time in the history of the competition and in their third consecutive appearance.
This they did with a stunning 1-0 win over Burkina Faso in the group stages.
They were not done yet.
In the quarter-finals, they met Mali and, boy, what a performance it was as Simba Sithole of How Mine and Kuda Mahachi scored twice for a 2-1 win that further rewrote the history of the Warriors in this competition.
What was left was to clear the Libyan hurdle in the semi-finals at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, but after a goal from Simba Sithole of Dynamos was wrongly adjudged to have been scored from an offside position, it was left to the dreaded shoot-out to decide the finalist.
Goalkeeper George Chigova saved twice, but that was not enough to drive confidence into his comrades as Ali Sadiki, Milton Ncube, Sithole (Dynamos) and Peter Moyo all missed their spot kicks.
Defenders Eric Chipeta, Hardlife Zvirekwi and Patson Jaure converted together with the sure-footed defensive midfielder Danny Phiri. The Warriors will now face Nigeria tomorrow in the third place play off.
The Super Eagles were worse off than the Warriors as they converted just once in losing 4-1 to Ghana.
Libyan goalkeeper Mohamed Nashnush Abduala was the star with two saves during the penalties and scoring the deciding final penalty which takes them close to the winners’ trophy and $750 000 cash prize. The Warriors are assured of $250 000.
There was a little problem, though, with Zimbabwe’s penalty takers: Sithole (Dynamos) had not scored in the competition and was under pressure to deliver in a match that the Warriors needed to win.
Moyo, while good at winning balls and driving forward, exhibited wayward shooting during the matches that he played and there was no way he could have scored from the spot. He simply lacked accuracy. Ncube and Sadiki’s left-footed penalties were all too predictable for Nashnush.
Most teams tend to use goalkeepers in the lottery and am sure Chigova would have converted one. Zimbabwe has a serious shortage of strikers in the mould of Peter Nyama (72 in one season) and Moses Chunga (46 goals in one season) and it’s one serious area that coaches need to work on.
Last season’s top scorer Tendai Ndoro managed 18, Nyasha Mushekwi scored 23 goals in 2009 and Norman Maroto had 22 in 2010. Then former Dynamos striker Rodreck Mutuma scored just 14 goals to lift the top goalscorer award three years ago.