Coach Mhofu hits back
SUNDAY CHIDZAMBWA is baffled by the “witch-hunting” that has characterised the aftermath of Zimbabwe’s loss to Liberia in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations soccer qualifier.
“I am afraid we are slowly becoming a nation of alarmists. Sometimes one gets discouraged by some of the silly sentiments that usually come up whenever we lose a game,” said the Warriors gaffer.
“Come on. We still top the group and have a very big chance of sealing it at home against Congo. This is African football; it’s not easy playing away from home.
“Instead of regrouping and start focusing on the match against Congo, we are all over asking a lot of questions. Some people even have the audacity of accusing me of taking bribes from players … this in not football at all.”
Questions were raised over Chidzambwa’s team selection and tactics on that fruitless outing in Monrovia last Sunday.
Why did he start Tino Kadewere as the front man when the Le Havre striker has not seen action in over three months?
Why plunge former skipper Willard Katsande into the deep end when the hard man is not as hard as he has been after quitting the Warriors months back?
Why play Marshal Munetsi at rightback instead of his usual central midfield role?
Chidzambwa has answers to those questions, and the gist of it is that he and his technical staff made the right calls.
“Kadewere didn’t play badly. Yes, he missed a lot of chances, but at least he was getting into scoring positions,” said the Warriors coach.
“I hear some saying he was coming back from an injury and my question to them is who wasn’t? Evans Rusike was also coming from an injury.
“To us it became an issue of who was better suited for the battle, Evans or Tino, and to us Tino was better. Actually I feel sorry for Kadewere.
“Besides, a coach cannot dream or foretell that a player will go off-form before the game. You can only find out a player is off-form after you play him.
“As for Katsande, the issue is we wanted a natural replacement for Danny Phiri who was injured in DR Congo and we opted for Katsande’s experience. To me Willard played well, he won a lot of tussles, he did well.”
The legendary gaffer feels critics are not being fair.
“People will be watching the match on TV and I can only forgive them for making their conclusions about our play. The weather was very hot and humid. Our youngsters were brave; they played their hearts out.
“This is not about Sunday Chidzambwa, it’s about all of us as Zimbabweans, everyone’s input is critical. Football is not played during the 90 minutes alone. The match starts a week or so before; we look at how you prepare, how fit your players are, and how motivated they are.
“We never trained in Liberia. We arrived Thursday evening. The European-based players arrived on Friday night, so effectively - as a team
we only had one training session. All these factors come into play,” said Chidzambwa.