ZIMBABWE’S Warriors have paid the price for their surprise defeat to Burundi in a 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifier with the country’s flagship team tumbling out of the top 100 on the latest Fifa Coca Cola Football rankings.
The Warriors were ranked 99 last month and stayed in the top 100 despite being absent from the 2012 Nations Cup which was jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
But they have now tumbled seven places down the ladder to 106 in the world while they are now rated 27th in Africa after accumulating 307 points.
Under the caretaker guidance of FC Platinum coach Rahman Gumbo, the Warriors fell 2-1 to the Burundi Swallows in a 2013 Nations Cup first round, first leg qualifier in Bujumbura on February 29.
The Swallows took the lead in the 46th minute when Rodi Muvugo scored but Musona equalised in the second half only for the Burundi skipper Valery Nahayo to hit the sucker punch towards the end.
The match took place on a day reserved for Fifa international friendlies, which saw a number of matches being played across the globe.
Before their defeat in Bujumbura where Zimbabwe sent a weakened team following the massive suspensions of more than 80 players fingered in the Asiagate scandal, the Warriors were rated the 23rd best team in Africa.
Gumbo never really got a chance to train his team while shoddy travel arrangements meant that the Warriors only converged in Burundi in batches with their talismanic striker Knowledge Musona only joining his team-mates hours before the match.
The veteran coach also had to make do with a team that was playing together for the first time as he handed debuts to the likes of Arnold Chaka and Mandla Sibanda while Terrence Mandaza was playing only his second game for the senior team.
Despite the poor travel arrangements, Musona shook off the fatigue that comes with long hours of flying from Germany to Burundi and grabbed a 58th minute consolation.
The TSG Hoffenheim forward’s goal also left the Warriors with a lot of hope that they can turn the tables on the Swallows and advance to the second and final qualifying round at the expense of the lowly rated East Africans.
The Warriors will now host the Swallows in the reverse fixture at Rufaro on June 3. Burundi have also made steady progress on the rankings as they climbed 11 places. The East Africans are now 10 places below Zimbabwe on the Caf ratings while they are ranked 132 in the world with 250 points.
Nations Cup runners-up Cote d’Ivoire remain the best placed African team and 23rd in the world while Ghana retained their second position ahead of Algeria. Zambia’s Chipolopolo, who are the reigning African kings gained two places from 43rd to 41st.
There was no change at the top of the Fifa table with world champions Spain consolidating their pole position and Netherlands reclaiming the second spot from Germany.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe international Onismor Bhasera has scored probably the quickest ever goal for his side Plymouth Argyle when he found the net after just 11 seconds against Wimbledon on Wednesday.
The visiting Plymouth went up when other players had hardly made a feel of the ball after Bhasera headed home a delivery from Darrell Berry.
Wimbledon pulled level when Sammy Moore scored but Bhasera was instrumental in setting up Nick Chadwick for the winner. The Warriors left back was later voted Man of the Match for his exploits on the night.
It was Bhasera’s first outing since returning from international duty with the Warriors in Burundi. The former Kaizer Chiefs man has fully recovered from a knee injury that forced into a long spell on the sidelines.
Despite having been one of the professionals who were frustrated by the Warriors’ poor travel arrangements to Burundi, which reportedly forced him to buy his return air ticket to England, Bhasera has insisted he is committed to trying to help the Warriors qualify for the 2013 Nations Cup finals to be staged in neighbouring South Africa.
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