World cup qualifier: Derby ends in drab draw

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BY HENRY MHARA – NewsDay

ZIMBABWE ……………………………0

SOUTH AFRICA……………………..0

WARRIORS captain Knowledge Musona could not hide his displeasure over the poor performance of his charges as the much-talked about World Cup Group G opening qualifier between Zimbabwe and South Africa at the National Sports Stadium yesterday ended in a goalless draw.

Addressing journalists after the match, Musona admitted that the performance was “not good enough,” and promised to sit the whole squad down and make his displeasure known.

The Saudi Arabia-based Musona could be seen throwing his hands in the air every time his teammates made mistakes during the match. He said some of the mistakes were unacceptable at this level of the game.

“It’s normal to miss some passes and no one is perfect in football, but sometimes it is frustrating because it was too easy doing it,” Musona said.

“It has to be something difficult to lose the ball, but for us, it was easy to just play passes without taking care of the ball. We need to work on that because it is something that we need to do and has an advantage when you keep possession. If you can’t keep possession, there is no way you can go forward and hurt the opponent. You have to make them work (to win back possession),” he said.

So bad was the team’s performance that they had just one shot at goal the whole 90 minutes — a rising effort by Khama Billiat which was tipped over.

“As the captain, I will have to say something to the squad because I know the fans are not happy. We know the fans don’t want us to draw. They expect a win. But we are going to take it from here and try to collect maximum points in the next match. Remember when we played Botswana in the first match of the Afcon (Africa Cup of Nations) qualifiers we drew, but after that we won some games and managed to qualify. We still have hope and an opportunity to try and collect maximum points. I know the supporters are not happy with our performance, but I promise that we will do more in the upcoming match. It’s not good enough to draw at home. We need to win, it’s simple as that.”

Musona said he expects a positive result when they face Ethiopia in their next qualifier in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.

“We still have five games to play in the qualifiers and we look forward to the next game. We will try to improve what we did wrong today. We didn’t create enough chances to score goals. But it is something that we can work on and try to improve.”

The team’s poor performance piled pressure on Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušic who has been accused of failing to justify his appointment.

The Croat, who was forced to field a depleted side after several of his regulars, including Aston Villa midfielder Marvelous Nakamba failed to travel because of COVID-19 restrictions, was also disappointed by the performance of his team.

With only four of the players in the squad getting regular game time at their clubs, the coach said the team actually fared better under the circumstances.

Prior to the match, Logarušic had complained over the unavailability of some regulars and lack of match fitness.

Pre-match worries were in the defence department, but it later turned out that the team’s problems were more than that.

Despite some early jitters, the backline led by the impressive Onismor Bhasera who partnered Alec Mudimu at the heart of defence, actually performed above expectation.

It was the midfield that failed to click the whole afternoon, while the dream frontline of Billiat, Musona and Tino Kadewere rarely threatened.

After a cagey opening minutes by both sides, it was South Africa who could have gone ahead, but goalkeeper Talbert Shumba justified his selection in the starting line-up ahead of Washington Arubi when he tipped over a Teboho Mokoena’s dipping shot.

Things did not get any better after the break for the hosts. Kadewere, who clearly looked unfit for the game, limped out and he is unlikely to take part in the Tuesday match against Ethiopia.

On the 68th minute, the hosts had another narrow escape when Takudzwa Chimwemwe scooped the ball off the line after Shumba had fumbled a Bongokuhle Hlongwane’s shot.

Neither side seemed willing to offer enough risk going forward to snatch it in the latter stages as the game disappointingly petered out.

Zimbabwe: T Shumba, T Chimwemwe, D Lunga, O Bhasera, A Mudimu, T Kamusoko, M Munetsi, K Mahachi (T Rusike, 58’), K Musona, K Billiat, T Kadewere (T Dzvukamanja, 58’)

South Africa: R Williams, De Reuck, S Xulu, N Mobbie, M Mvala, T Mokoena, P Tau (S Mbule, 78’), G Links, L Singh (V Letsoalo, 73’), E Makgopa

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