By Petros Kausiyo
When Sunday Chidzambwa faced the international media on the eve of the Warriors’ decisive game against DR Congo, he cast a confident look, declaring his charges were primed to rescue an Africa Cup of Nations campaign that had gone off the rails in their opening two games.
But as the 67-year-old coach returned to the same Press conference room at 30 June Stadium here, and with the army of journalists having grown even bigger, he was a man whose mind appeared to have been caught between wandering away from events in the packed auditorium and listening to the questions aimed at him.
Chidzambwa’s men are now without a win in six high-profile internationals since a bunch of home-based Zambians ended their Cosafa Cup dominance.
“We just had a very bad day in office. We didn’t play well in all the departments. We had to change the goalkeeper during warm-up because our first choice got injured, but that is no excuse at all,” Chidzambwa said.
“We played badly, we conceded easy goals and it was a bad performance on our part in every department and I think we need to go home, rewind our performances and get a way forward.
“We conceded a very early goal and we conceded very easy goals and from then on we were chasing the game and we could not come back… it was a bad performance and I take the blame.
“I think the element of complacence was there. The way we started the game was slow and we had to chase the game during the entire 90 minutes.”
He spoke of the need to review this poor show and find solutions in what probably was the biggest hint by Chidzambwa that he is not about to throw in the towel on the basis of the Cairo disaster.
“I think in the near future, we need to approach the game differently. I wouldn’t also want to say we lost because some players were missing through injuries, we replaced all injured players with equally good players, but we just didn’t come to the party,” Chidzambwa said.
Injuries stalked the Warriors from Day One of their group games with Tafadzwa Kutinyu’s tournament ending before he kicked a ball.
Fresh casualties were to emerge from every match with the pair of Edmore Sibanda and Nyasha Mushekwi the injury victims in the group opener against Egypt.
Influential midfielder Marvelous Nakamba was to follow in the casualty bay as did Devine Lunga, Alec Mudimu and George Chigova’s hamstring knocking him out of the match against DRC during warm-up.
Congolese forward Cedric Bakambu, who scored twice against the Warriors, said their coach Florent Ibenge had advised them at the break to go for more goals after noting that the Warriors could be taken to the slaughter on the night.
“Our objective was to score lots of goals and the coach also told us to go for more after we scored the first two,” Bakambu said.
DRC are now hoping that goal difference could help them squeeze through as one of the best four third-place finishers.
Yet with just a 1-0 win the Warriors could have finished group runners-up after Mahomed Salah and his Pharaohs appeared to do them a huge favour by beating Uganda 2-0 on the same night at Cairo International Stadium. The Chronicle