Zimbabwe . . . . . 0
Zambia . . . . . . . 0
ZIMBABWE’S chances of qualifying for the third edition of the African Nations Championships (Chan) were dealt a severe blow yesterday as they failed to get the edge over Zambia in the first leg final qualifying match at Rufaro Stadium.
Home supporters know it would be a tall order for the Warriors when they travel to Lusaka for the decisive tie over the weekend. Only a scoring draw will see the Warriors through.
But coach Ian Gorowa thought a goalless draw was a good result for the Warriors.
He believed the team would have a fair chance of qualifying to the tournament whose finals will be staged in South Africa early next year.
“I think my boys played well. They showed a lot of character because Zambia were very tough and we could not break them down,” Gorowa said.
“I’m happy with the performance, obviously not with the result. But I must say the team showed a lot of character although we probably need to double our efforts in front of goal.”
Zambia coach Hervé Renard quickly disappeared into the dressing room at the final whistle, but Chipolopolo’s star man in yesterday’s match Bruce Musakanya, believed with this draw, his team had effectively put one foot in South Africa.
“It was a tough game for us but a draw is a good result considering that we were playing on the artificial turf which we are not used to. We will do a lot better playing on natural grass in Zambia because we are used to it.
“We created good chances in this match and we could have scored a goal. I know we will qualify for the finals,” the nimble footed player, who was wearing the number seven jersey, said.
There was attacking intent from both sides in the early stages of the match with Zambia knocking at the hosts’ goal as early as the first minute.
Musakanya received a pass on the left wing and easily beat Hardlife Zvirekwi inside the box before finding Misheck Chaila whose intended return pass was safely collected by Warriors goalie Tafadzwa Dube who had rushed off his line.
On the other end, Nelson Maziwisa forced a corner-kick, but it yielded nothing.
Zambia had the slight advantage in terms of possession especially in the midfield, but did little with it.
A swift counter-attack initiated by the lively Peter “Rio” Moyo on 22nd minute released Tendai Ndoro, but the Chicken Inn man fired over.
Immediately the Warriors were on another attack, but Masimba Mambare, who had a poor game, shot wildly over.
Two minutes later, Ndoro would find himself with one marker inside the Zambian box and although he managed to shield his man well, but his final effort was tame.
A better chance for Zimbabwe followed moments later when Mambare swung in a good cross, but Maziwisa and Milton Ncube failed to put the slightest of touches it needed, and the ball rolled past the goal.
Musakanya was making a nuisance of himself at the other end, creating some space just outside the box, but his snap shot went just wide of the upright.
The home side were awarded a free-kick inside the penalty arc at the stroke of half-time after Maziwisa had been hacked from behind, but Ncube’s effort was blocked by the wall.
Both coaches made a half-time substitution, introducing their jersey number 10 players; Moses Phiri coming in for Zambia while Tawanda Muparati came in for the Warriors.
It was the latter who was quickly involved as he won a free-kick just outside the box five minutes later, but Erick Chipeta hit the stands from the resultant kick.
Moyo was becoming more and more influential as the match progressed and his cross on the hour mark was headed wide by Maziwisa.
Zambia had the next two chances when Musakanya’s shot on the run went wide while substitute Festus Mbewe hit over from inside the box following a corner-kick.
Dube then produced a neat save on 70th minute, denying Fuckson Kapumbu from a freekick which was dipping in.
Moyo, who was now clearly the outstanding player for the Warriors, tried his luck from range, but Chipolopolo keeper Danny Munyau collected comfortably.
The Warriors were almost gifted a goal at full-time when Munyau failed to read a bounce, but somehow managed to recover to tip it over.
Zimbabwe: T Dube, P Jaure, E Chipeta, H Zvirekwi, B Chimwamuchere, D Chafa, P Moyo, M Mambare, M Ncube (T Muparati, 46th min), N Maziwisa (D Chungwa, 80th min), T Ndoro.
Zambia: D Munyau, J Chisenga, F Kapumbu, K Mtonga, B Chama, B Musakanya, E Kangwa (B Mwape, 46th min), F Mbewe (M Phiri, 88th min), K Chongo, M Chaila (S Kalume, 23rd min), C Munthali