The Zimbabwe Warriors, featuring the first batch of their British Brigade, conceded a goal four minutes into time added on as they slumped to defeat in their friendly international match against Lesotho in Maseru last night.
Caretaker coach Wilson Mutekede and his assistant Lloyd Chitembwe thrust three of the recruits from the British Brigade — Macauley Bonne, Tendayi Darikwa and Kundai Benyu — straight into battle in the team’s first XI. Leicester City’s Admiral Muskwe was thrust to the bench.
The Warriors had the better chances in the first half, in which they played with two forwards — Bonne and captain Tendai Ndoro — but their conversion rate let them down.
The artificial surface at the Sesotho Stadium was a different test for the likes of Bonne, Darikwa and Benyu who are not used to playing on such a surface even though all the three players put in a decent shift in their first game for the senior national team.
Darikwa was the best of the lot, which was probably expected, because of his experience and he was devastated after the last-minute defeat he said he was even now more determined to try and win the next match against Namibia in Windhoek on Saturday.
Muskwe of Leicester City was introduced as an 81st minute substitute for Ndoro and twice he fashioned some good chances for his teammates in his cameo show.
“The new boys, given this was their first game for the team at this level because Bonne had only played one game for the Young Warriors in that friendly in Morocco where he scored, showed a lot of promise and they could be very good additions for the main team,’’ team manager Wellington Mpandare told The Herald last night.
“Most of the focus was on what these new players could add to the team and the coaches were convinced that they can bring in something different going forward. Darikwa is very devastated, as I am speaking to you, he is very hurt by the defeat because he considers himself a winner and has been saying he wants to make up for all this by winning the game in Namibia on Saturday.
“For players who are not used to playing competitive matches on artificial surfaces, these boys put in a good shift and that’s the progress we are looking for even though we all would have loved to win the game and the nature of the loss, the last-minute goal, was disappointing.’’
The two teams were meeting for the first time since their seven-goal thriller, which the Warriors won 4-3, in the COSAFA Castle Cup on their way to winning the tournament in South Africa a few months ago.
The last time the Warriors were in Maseru, for a CHAN qualifier in October 2015, the match ended 1-1 at the Sesotho Stadium. Darikwa played the full game last night,
Bonne was also given a full run while Benyu was pulled out in the 75th minute and replaced by Liberty Chakoroma. The Warriors are expected to arrive home at 10pm tonight before they fly out tomorrow for their date against Namibia on Saturday. The Herald