Sikhumbuzo Moyo,Senior Sports Reporter
Somalia 1-0 Zimbabwe
ZIMBABWEAN football hit a new low last night when the Warriors lost to the world’s lowest ranked team, Somalia, in a Fifa World Cup preliminary round first leg match played at El Hadj Hassan Gouled in Djibouti City, Djibouti.
On their return to the World Cup participation, the Warriors, under interim coach Joey Antipas, were expected to steamroll past their opponents and all seemed to be on course as they enjoyed a lion’s share of the possession but goals kept on eluding them until that 86th minute sucker punch, a few seconds after 84th minute substitute Knox Mutizwa had missed a sitter that could have given the Warriors the lead.
In fact, Zimbabwe ought to have gone to the breather leading by half a dozen goals had they been clinical in front of goal but their strikers Terrence Dzvukamanja and England-based Admire Muskwe, who in all honesty never came to the party, could not find the target. Dzvukamanja was, however, forceful and even his positioning was superb.
Dreadlocked midfielder, Thabani Kamusoko, skipper Alec Mudimu and his vice Kuda Mahachi, debutant McClive Phiri all were enjoying their game but in football it’s all about scoring and if you don’t score you get punished.
The Warriors now have to pick themselves up and prepare for the second leg which has now been moved to Tuesday at the National Sports Stadium.
“The match will now be played on Tuesday 10 September 2019 after SFF failed to secure flights to Zimbabwe in time for the initial fixture date which was Sunday September 8.
The venue of the match has also been moved from Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo to the National Sports Stadium in Harare because we already have another international match scheduled for Barbourfields on the 10th of September,” said Zifa in a statement last night.
Zimbabwe’s Under-23 take on their South African counterparts in a Total Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on the same day.
“We understand the inconvenience this development presents to all stakeholders and we unreservedly apologise for the unexpected developments. In the spirit of fair play, African solidarity, brotherhood and togetherness, we felt the Somali Football Federation’s request was reasonable and sincere, thus we had to consent, otherwise the match would not have taken place at all. The world governing body, Fifa have also commended Zifa for this wonderful gesture,” the statement added.
While the Warriors are still favourites to pummel Somalia on Tuesday next week and progress to the next stage of the qualifiers, last night’s result will be a talking point for a long time to come.
Zimbabwe starting 11
Elvis Chipezeze, Divine Lunga, McClive Phiri, Alec Mudimu (Capt), Peter Muduwa, Nyasha Munetsi, Thabani Kamusoko, Terrence Dzvukamanja (Knox Mutizwa 84th min), Evans Rusike, Admiral Muskwe (Clive Augusto 74th min), Kudakwashe Mahachi