By Augustine Hwata
The Warriors again conspired to hurt their fans, with a militant section of the supporters raining missiles onto the pitch in frustration, after the senior national team began their 2014 World Cup campaign in the worst manner possible at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
The painful defeat to Guinea was too much to bear for some of the fans who threw an assortment of missiles onto the pitch, briefly holding the Warriors hostage, after a nightmarish afternoon for the hosts at the giant stadium.
As it dawned on the supporters, in the last quarter of the match that Zimbabwe were heading for defeat, they broke into song and demanded the reinstatement of the suspended Norman Mapeza who remains incredibly popular with the fans.
Riot police had to move in to drive away the fans, who were threatening the two teams, as they made their way back to the dressing rooms. The ugly scenes spilled into the car park where several vehicles were stoned.
A number of fans called The Herald yesterday complaining that they had been caught in the crossfire, with their vehicles damaged by flying missiles as disillusioned fans vented their anger on anyone.
The fans also blamed Zifa for taking the match to the spacious venue, which had a bumpy surface, in complete disregard of an outcry by the players that the surface was uneven and the national cause would be better served at the compact Rufaro.
Striker Ibrahima Traore, who plays for German side Stuttgart, scored the priceless goal that condemned Zimbabwe to defeat and a horror start in their World Cup qualifiers for Brazil ahead of the second match in Maputo at the weekend.
Veteran midfielder Esrom Nyandoro, who was converted into a centreback, gave away the free-kick in the arc of the penalty area when he clipped on the legs of Traore. Traore had beaten Archie Gutu and was heading into the box before Nyandoro conceded the foul in the 27th minute.
Traore’s low shot curled away from the target but referee Seechurn Rajidraparsad from Mauritius ordered a retake after Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha had strayed from his line before the kick was taken.
And, after being presented with a second bite of the cherry, Traore hit the top corner of the net with a classy effort that left ’keeper Tapuwa Kapini as much a spectator as those who were watching from the stands. Guinea, hung on to their dear slender lead until the end to go second on the mini-log after Egypt had dismissed Mozambique 2-0 in Cairo.
It was the second defeat for Gumbo after his team also lost 2-1 to Burundi in an African Nations Cup qualifier in Bujumbura but the fans gave the coach the benefit of the doubt then after he had been thrust into seat at the last minute.
But the relationship appeared to break down yesterday when the fans on the eastern bays started waving goodbye to Gumbo and calling for Mapeza to be brought back. However, Gumbo said he was just on a caretaker basis and would only wait for guidance from Zifa, hinting that he will not throw in the towel yet.
“We had seven clear chances that could have given us goals but we wasted all that. The players got into the box but still failed to score all the time. Should I have gone in and played honestly? Luck was just not on our side today,” said Gumbo.
Gumbo played down the taunts from supporters. “I did not hear what the people were saying because I was concentrating on the team. But I am in this job on an acting capacity and who am I to turn down the offer to serve my country when I can continue,” said Gumbo.
Gumbo got his cards wrongly when he started with Gutu in central midfield and the Kalmar player was found wanting as a holding player. Gutu lacked mobility in coming back to support his defence and then try to switch into attacking gear and this gave Guinea more space to manoeuvre.
The introduction of Willard Katsande, at least, changed the complexion of the game as he tried to fight for the ball. While Gumbo rectified his mistake on Gutu, the coach seemingly left Vusa Nyoni, who had been given a surprise first team place ahead of Onismor Bhasera, to last the game.
To the neutral, Bhasera should have been given the nod ahead of Nyoni for the leftback position given that the latter has spent his season playing as a left sided midfielder, in attack and not in defence, in Belgium. “Archie struggled with his game and we pulled him out. Willard came in and justified himself but we still have to work hard,” said Gumbo.
The Warriors were all but their own enemies as Takesure Chinyama, Knowledge Musona and an out-of-sorts Khama Billiat failed to convert clear chances. Chinyama failed to direct his effort on target in the first half before he headed tamely with only Yattara to beat after Musona had found him with a superb cross.
Billiat, who missed the early days of training during the week complaining of an injury, also failed to get to the end of another Musona pass, leaving the ball to trickle across the goal-line. Hoffenheim forward Musona, who is being loaned to Aurbun, had his header cleared off the line after some good work by the impressive Oscar Machapa on the right channel.
Musona also had another effort disallowed for off side while Yattarra pulled a stunning save to deny the former Kaizer Chiefs hitman after he had raced to an intelligent through pass from Karuru, who had raised his game in the second half.
Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer believes that their win was not a stroll in the park and said his goalkeeper Naby Yattarra made the difference. “Honestly we expected a tough game and Zimbabwe had the opportunities but our goalkeeper saved three quarters of the attempts.
“We were not very efficient in the second half but it’s a very good start in our campaign to win this game,” said Dussuyer. At this level of this game, it’s all what matters — a victory!
Zimbabwe: Tapuwa Kapini (gk/capt), Oscar Machapa, Vusa Nyoni, Esrom Nyandoro, Carrington Nyadombo, Tinashe Nengomasha, Archie Gutu (Willard Katsande 32nd min), Ovidy Karuru, Knowlegede Musona, Khama Billiat (Denver Mukamba 79th min), Takesure Chinyama (Terence Mandaza 58th min)
Guinea: Yattara Naby (gk) Bah Thierno, Kamil Zayette (capt) Oumar Kalabane, Ibrahima Diallo, Ibrahima Conte, Sadio Diallo, Ibrahima Traore, Habib Balde, Naby Soumah (78th min), Razzagui Camara (Abdul Camara 75th min)
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