FORMER soccer players in the country have praised the Warriors for their gallant display in the African Nations Championships (Chan) tournament in South Africa despite falling to Libya in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe lost 5-4 to Libya in a penalty lottery following a 0-0 deadlock after 120 minutes. The Warriors only scored three goals in five matches – once in the group stages with Masimba Mambare scoring in the game against Burkina Faso, that saw them move to the quarter-finals.
Simba Sithole and Kudakwashe Mahachi then scored in the quarter-final against Mali and the semi-final was a tale of missed penalties in the shoot-out.
Former Highlanders and Eagles defender Netsai Moyo said it was unfortunate that the Warriors had to lose at that stage after putting up a brilliant performance.
“Super Netsai” as he was known in his days said the Warriors came in with a weak strike force from the start, but was quick to point out that the boys played their hearts out at the tournament.
“We failed to utilise our chances against Libya,” he said. We should have won it in 90 minutes. The boys did everything they could, but we were unlucky. We went into the tournament with a weak strike force and we only scored three goals. That was not good in terms of scoring, but we went as far as we could carry ourselves. I am really proud of the boys. The defence was very strong.”
Former AmaZulu and Highlanders utility player Master Masiku said the Warriors had a good tournament besides the loss to Libya.
“The Warriors played very well. I think they performed to the best of their abilities. The best thing that can be done is to ensure that the team is not destroyed. It will be good if they can get about three games against West African countries,” he said.
Tobias Mudyambanje, a former Highlanders striker, noted some of the areas the Warriors need to work on.
“The Warriors did not take their chances and football is all about taking chances. The main problem that I saw is that our strikers did not have good ball control and they were easily dispossessed by Libyan defenders. The shooting upfront was not very good, but overally the team performed well in the competition,” he said.
Former Black Rhinos captain Geoffrey Ndlovu said echoed the same sentiments.
“The players’ performance was good,” he said. “Despite losing to Libya I feel that the team that has been assembled should be maintained or kept intact. It is very sad that the team lost, but I think what is needed is for the strike force to be sharpened. For players who do not have experience, they did well.”
Collin Nyambiya, a former Railstars striker, also said the Warriors had done well even though there was room for improvement.
“The players have improved, it is just that the goals were not coming,” he said. “Coach Ian Gorowa should continue building the team. The team was good and they only conceded one goal during normal play. The defence was very solid.”
The Warriors now meet Nigeria tomorrow in the third-place play off after the Super Eagles also bowed out in a penalty shootout 4-1 to Ghana.