WARRIORS striker Roderick Mutuma says forward players should shoulder most of the blame for the national football team’s early exit from the African Nations Championships (Chan) currently underway in Rwanda.BY KEVIN MAPASURE IN RUBAVU RWANDA
The Kalisto Pasuwa-coached side lost their first two Group D matches by identical 1-0 scorelines and in similar circumstances against Zambia and Mali to bow out of the competition.
Zimbabwe will play their last match at this year’s edition against Uganda tomorrow in a contest of little significance to the Warriors. while the Cranes still harbour hopes of going through to the next round with a victory.
With the inquest on the team’s poor showing in Rwanda well and truly underway, Mutuma, who started as a lone striker for the Warriors against Mali and was withdrawn later in the match, said the strikers should take most of the flak for the team’s disappointing show.
“We, as strikers, have not performed our duties well, but that’s football. It happens and we are disappointed. After the Mali game, we were all distraught. It was so difficult such that we could not even bathe or eat. We really wanted to go through, but the goals just wouldn’t come,” he said.
Mutuma said he was determined to bow out of the tournament having scored at least one goal for the team and win the match to restore lost pride.
“We are all determined to do well in the Uganda match. We want to win, but we know they need those three points more than us and they will fight hard. They will not find it easy because everyone is eager to put up a fight, just like we did in the Zambia and Mali games. We should just continue playing as we did in the first two matches, but we need to improve on taking chances,” he said.
“This match is as important as the first two to us since we want to show everyone that we are not as bad as the results have suggested so far.
“I think we are a good side, but we have suffered a lot of misfortune and have let the coach down. We worked so hard before this tournament and coming to play just three matches and returning home is very disappointing. But having lost the first two matches, we still have one more for us to try and restore some pride.”
The Dynamos striker said while it was disappointing to go out so early, the experience would be useful for the younger players in the team ahead of other tournaments such as the Cosafa Cup coming in May.
“The positives from the tournament are that we had a lot of young players in the team and they will have learnt a lot from this and this experience will make them better players for the future. It’s not the end of the world. There is a lot of international football coming up. When you are so disappointed, it only strengthens you as a player.”
Pasuwa is likely to give a run to players that he has not used in the tournament so far.
Among them, Caps United midfielder Joel Ngodzo is likely to be summoned, as is Harare City’s new signing, Raphael Manuvire.
Zimbabwe arrived here with the target of improving on their fourth-place finish from the 2014 tournament played in South Africa, but they have suffered the ignominy of an early exit.
The results so far have put both the players and the technical team, that includes assistant coaches Saul Chaminuka, Nation Dube and Richard Tswatswa, under pressure.
A win tomorrow would go a long way in giving them a bit of relief, but another loss is likely to crank up the pressure.
Zambia lead Group D and have qualified with six points, following 1-0 wins against Zimbabwe and Uganda, while Mali have four with Uganda are on one going into the last round of group matches, which will be played simultaneously.