By Lawrence Moyo in CAPE TOWN, South Africa
Zimbabwe 0-0 Uganda
AFTER three hours of action, the misfiring Warriors are still without a goal at the 2014 CHAN finals and the only positive spin to this is that, after another pathetic and frustrating show in front of goal yesterday, they are still in with a chance to squeeze into the quarter-finals.
The Class of 2014 have become the first battalion of Warriors to fail to score, after two matches, in the three CHAN finals that have been held since the maiden tournament was hosted by Cote d’Ivoire in 2009.
At the first tournament in Cote d’Ivoire, Sunday Chidzambwa and his men found the target three times in their first two games against Ghana (2-2) and the DRC (1-1) while the Class of 2011 in Sudan, under Madinda Ndlovu, scored once in their first two games.
Chidzambwa and Madinda failed to guide their Warriors past the group stages, with the team that took part in 2009 ending their campaign undefeated, but without a win to their credit, while three years ago the Warriors lost twice and won once.
Interestingly, despite their sterility in front of goal in the first two group games, Ian “Dibango” Gorowa and his troops can still qualify for the quarter-finals, provided they find their shooting boots and win their final game against Burkina Faso.
But the Warriors know that, by now, they should have been the first team to secure their place in the last eight given their dominance of the two games they played against Morocco and Uganda.
The Warriors made 22 attempts at goal against Uganda at Athlone yesterday, eight of them technically on target, but they still could not find the target. In the end, an intended cross by man-of-the-match Kuda Mahachi that hit the crossbar in the 62nd minute, was the closest the Warriors got to getting a goal.
In 180 minutes of Group B action, the Warriors have made 37 attempts at goal but they have failed to score yet a team like Mozambique has lost their two Group A matches while scoring FOUR times.
Uganda needed victory to seal a place in the last eight while the Warriors needed victory to have destiny of the group in their own hands going into the final game of the group, against Burkina Faso, on Monday night.
The Warriors’ consolation is that their main rivals for a quarter-final place, Morocco and Uganda, will clash on Monday night as the group will be decided. Thus all the Warriors need is a big win against Burkina Faso and go through regardless of what happens in the other game.
But it will be too ambitious to expect a big win over Burkina Faso by a team that does not seem to know where its goals will come from after another woeful afternoon in Cape Town.
In the event that the last game between Morocco and Uganda produces a winner, the Warriors will just need a win against Burkina Faso to qualify for the last eight.
While Donald Ngoma fluffed the best scoring chances in Sunday’s opener against Morocco, it was Dynamos hitman Simba Sithole’s turn yesterday.
The defining moment came in the 65th minute when the outstanding Mahachi did well on the left as Zimbabwe counter-attacked from a Uganda corner and sent in a perfect cross for an unmarked Sithole, who headed the ball down and it bounced way off target.
It was the sort of chance the old Simba Sithole would bury effortlessly before the nightmare return to the South African Premiership last year blew holes in his confidence and he hasn’t been the same striker again.
Second half substitute Charles Sibanda had the other clear opportunity when he timed his run to perfection and burst into the box unmarked to meet another perfect cross from the left by Mahachi.
The FC Platinum star then headed the ball straight onto the advertising boards. The reaction on the bench showed that Warriors were resigned to yet another barren afternoon and there was to be no more drama for the remainder of the half in which Uganda performed much better than the first half.
Both teams made one change from the teams that played the opening games with reigning Soccer Star of the Year Tawanda Muparati coming in for Pasca Manhanga while Francis Olaki replaced Francis Kayizzi for Uganda.
Statistically, the Warriors were dominant in the first half with a 61-39 percent advantage in ball possession, 11 shots at goal against Uganda’s three, four shots on target against zero and three corner kicks against one.
The best chance for Zimbabwe came in the first minute of time added on in that first half when Simba Sithole broke loose on the right and, with the goalkeeper anticipating a cross, he went for the near-post but the Uganda goalie Benjamin Ochan recovered in time to push it out for a corner kick.
However, the Ugandans had shown little respect for the Warriors as they won their first corner kick after just 26 seconds but they wasted the opportunity with the taker sending the ball into the side netting.
The game itself was open with both sides showing little respect for each other although Zimbabwe assumed control and dictated pace for much of the first half but without causing any anxious moments in the Uganda goal area.
While Senegalese referee Diedhiou had a relatively easy afternoon, he allowed Ugandan striker Yunus Sentamu escape unpunished for a blatant “Hand of God” antic in the 84th minute, as he tried to beat Warriors goalkeeper George Chigova to the ball.
He then feigned injury, probably fearing that the match officials had seen his shameful act.
Gorowa’s first-choice forwards are firing blanks, and that’s a huge problem for the gaffer and his team, but neither are the replacements bringing hope and Nelson Maziwisa spent the better part of his time on the pitch chasing shadows after being introduced in the second half. The Herald
ZIMBABWE: G. Chigova, H. Zvirekwi, E. Chipeta, P. Jaure, M. Ncube, K. Mahachi, D. Phiri, T. Muparati, D. Ngoma (N. Maziwisa 54th minute), S. Sithole (Dynamos, M. Mambare 80th min), A. Sadiki (C. Sibanda 52nd min).
UGANDA: B. Ochan, J. Ntambi (N. Wakiro 68th min), S. Kabugo, I. Muleme, F. Olaki (S. Okwil 81st min), I. Ntege, H. Waswa, B. Majwega (J. Mpande 46th min), Y. Sentamu, D. Igumai.