By Kevin Mapasure in Bafassoum, Cameroon
ZIMBABWE . . . . .. . . . . . .. . .. ……1
MALAWI . . . . . . . . . . . ………….(1)2
IT had been long since the Warriors hogged so much spotlight as they did in the run-up to their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group B encounter against Malawi here yesterday.
The whole nation, buoyed by the Norman Mapeza team’s gallant fight in their opening match against Senegal, which they went on to lose 1-0, was confident of an outright victory.
Even naysayers found themselves captivated by the team’s fighting spirit.
They will be forgiven to never try it again after the team’s dramatic defeat to Malawi felt like a dagger piercing into the heart.
With the defeat yesterday, the Warriors were booted out of the competition, still with one more game to play.
The Warriors have disappointed their fans before, but this time it was a different level of pain.
There was so much promise, it felt like they would collect the three points at hand and set themselves well for qualification to the next round.
And when Ishamel Wadi scored on the 39th minute, the fans were thrust into dreamland.
This was what the fans wanted and the Warriors looked well on course.
Yet the joy was short-lived, with Malawi levelling matters three minutes later through Gabadhino Mhango.
With Zimbabwe looking to come back into the second stanza to finish off the match, it was Malawi who took the initiative through the same scorer.
This time, defender Teenage Hadebe was liable after he dozed off and had his pocket picked by Mhango, who went on to loop the ball over a sprawling Petros Mhari.
From there, Malawi looked sharper and more comfortable on the ball.
The movement was crispy, unlike their opponents who were labouring.
They lost their rhythm, made too many stray passes and hardly fashioned chances.
Captain Knowledge Musona was hauled off for Admiral Muskwe, and the England-based striker looked sharper, but he too could not breach the Malawi defence.
Even the introduction of the talented Jordan Zemura didn’t help matters that much.
And when the final whistle sounded, it signalled the end of the road for Zimbabwe.
Even a win against Guinea will not help the Warriors’ cause, it is Malawi who could find themselves into the last 16.
Mapeza blamed poor conversion for the defeat.
“I am very disappointed because we are now out of the tournament. We created chances, but we failed to convert most of them. We played well in the last match and today we started off well too. We could have done better with the chances we created,” Mapeza said.
P Mhari, T Chimwemwe, K Madzongwe, G Takwara, K Benyu, T Kadewere, B Kangwa (J Zemura), O Bhasera, T Hadebe, K Musona (A Muskwe), I Wadi (K Mahachi)
E Kabhobwe, S Sanudi, C Denis, R Mbulu, F Madinga, G Mhango, J Banda, L Mzava, G Chirwa, K Myaba