Warriors rattle their shields
ZIMBABWE coach Callisto Pasuwa is a glass half-full kind of guy. Despite the Warriors dropping two points in their 2-2 draw with Algeria, he looked at it as a point gained against a strong side that is among the favourites to win the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
Zimbabwe came from a goal down to lead 2-1 in Franceville on Sunday.
The Warriors had a number of chances to wrap up the game. Khama Billiat twisted and turned Algerian defenders before unleashing a powerful shot that was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi. Cuthbert Malajila came the closest, missing a sitter, before the Dessert Warriors stole a point.
Zimbabwe’s spirited performance removed all the negativity that surrounded their build-up to the tournament.
First, they couldn’t train at the National Stadium in Harare because of the Zimbabwe Football Association’s financial woes. The players then boycotted their send-off that was attended by deputy president Emmerson Mnangagwa and several ministers as they demanded better pay and bonuses.
A last-minute arrangement was made and the players departed for Cameroon to play a friendly with the Indomitable Lions that ended 1-1. But before they could start the tournament their kit sponsor, Mafro Sports, could not deliver the kit in time, forcing the Warriors to play with unbranded jerseys. All of that drama did not spoil the players’ mood.
“That point was important to us,” Pasuwa said.
“It’s a morale-booster and we hope this has motivated the boys. We hope to do better in our next games. Remember we came to the tournament with an underdog tag, but I am happy we played well against Algeria.”
Senegal showed dominance in Group C, registering the first win of the tournament when they beat Tunisia 2-0. The Lions of Teranga had to hold on in the second half when a rampant Tunisian side searched for an equaliser. Senegal’s defence stood resolute.
Senegal clash with Zimbabwe in Franceville on Thursday. A win for the Lions of Teranga will put them in the last eight, while the Warriors need to earn maximum points to stand a chance of making it into the quarter-finals.
Zimbabwe went into this group expected to be the whipping boys of Group C even though they have grown, however their draw with Algeria shows that they are a force to be reckoned with. HAPPY MEN: Guinea-Bissau’s Juary Soares and Jonas Mendes celebrate after drawing with Gabon in their opening fixture at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. Tomorrow they face four-time champions Cameroon.