WARRIORS have it all to do in their bid to qualify for next year’s African Nations Championship (Chan) finals to be played in Kenya, after the Sunday Chidzambwa-coached team fell to Namibia in the tournament’s Southern Zone second round first leg qualifier at Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek, Namibia, yesterday.
BY Henry Mhara
Namibia . . . . . (0) 1
Zimbabwe . . . . . . 0
Hendrick Somaeb’s 51st minute strike separated the two teams, who meet at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday for the decisive second leg, with the winner over two legs progressing to the final round to meet either Lesotho or Comoros.
Comoros have one foot in the final after defeating Lesotho 2-0 at Stade de Moroni on Saturday.
The Warriors team, who had to deal with a flu outbreak in their camp, were left seething in anger after striker, Francesco Zekumbawire’s first half goal was ruled out.
Team manager, Wellington Mupandare said the incident could have worked against his side, whom he believes will overturn the result in Harare.
“We are not sure why Zekumbawira’s goal was ruled out. The referee said there was an infringement in the build-up, but we didn’t see any. We asked him who had committed the foul and he apologised. He just said sorry,” Mupandare said.
“But overall, we didn’t play well. Some of the players did not come to the party and we had a problem with the flu. I also think we were punished for failing to convert the chances we got, especially in the first half, which we dominated and should have scored at least two goals.
“But Namibia are not a team that we should fear. They have one player, their number 10 (Somaeb), he is very dangerous. But otherwise, they are very beatable because I could see there were really struggling in the final stages of the game. I’m confident that we will beat them at home.”
Chidzambwa was forced to make last minute changes to the team after a bout of flu struck in his camp.
Midfielder, Gerald Takwara, one of the team’s outstanding players at the Cosafa tournament last week, was the most affected and had to watch the match from the terraces, while Zekumbawire and Abbas Amidu, who had also contracted the virus, soldiered on.
It was the visitors, who started the better side, and created a number of opportunities that they couldn’t convert, before they were punished by Somaeb, six minutes into the second half.
Zimbabwe tried to get back into the game after going behind, and could have equalised, but substitute Prince Dube’s effort in added on time was cleared off the line.
Namibia managed to hold on to assert their dominance over Zimbabwe, who they have now beaten three times in as many matches.
The Warriors will now need to beat Namibia by at least a two-goal margin to stand a chance of progressing to the next edition of the Chan finals, a tournament designed exclusively for footballers playing in their respective domestic leagues.
Zimbabwe have qualified for all the previous four Chan finals since the inaugural edition in 2009 held in Cote d’Ivoire.
Zimbabwe: H Rusawo, O Mushure, D Dauda, J Tigere, O Mwerahari, L Chakaroma, M Muchenje, R Manuvire (D Mukamba, 71’), A Amidu, T Chawapiwa (P Dube 75’), F Zekumbawire (Mandiranga, 55’)
Namibia: Kazapua, Horaeb, Karongee, Lombard, Hanamub, Iimbondi, Ketjiere, Shitembi, Nenkavu, Katjiteo, Somaeb