By Mehluli Sibanda
Zimbabwe will look for more precision as well as being clinical in front of goal when they face Algeria in an Africa Cup of Nations Group H qualifier at the National Sports Stadium in Harare tomorrow.
The Warriors have two days to correct the mistakes they made in Algeria, where they played well but still lost 3-1, their first defeat of the qualifiers. Had Zimbabwe taken the chances they created earlier on in the match played at the 5 July 1962 Olympic Stadium last Thursday, the result could have been completely different.
Khama Billiat missed a glorious opportunity from a Knowledge Musona free kick and Tinotenda Kadewere headed over in the first half before failing to beat Raïs M’Bolhi in a one on one situation in the second stanza. He did, however, score his third goal in Zimbabwean colours with 10 minutes left.
Algeria on the other hand were not in a generous mood and made sure they profited from mistakes made by the opponents. Elvis Chipezeze and his defenders went to sleep when the Warriors conceded the first goal, the keeper should have held cleanly to the ball and even after he had spilled it, the defenders should have cleared.
Divine Lunga, renowned for not being afraid when facing big names in African football failed to keep watch on Riyad Mahrez who managed to recycle the ball, send in a cross for Sofiane Feghouli to head in the second goal.
Mahrez displayed his individual brilliance with an exquisite finish for the third goal. Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic declared that he could not perform wonders after the loss to the Desert Foxes in what his first real competitive fixture in charge.
“I am not magician, against this team, you have players from Milan, Galatasaray, Manchester City, all of them are playing, our key players most of them are not playing or playing a bit lower, we played well, maybe result is a bit too big, the point is we didn’t disappoint. Algeria were a better team, they had better individual quality,’’ Logarusic said.
The Croatian employed a 4-3-2-1 formation which saw Kadewere playing as the lone striker, with Musona and Billiat behind him, a formation that did not work in the first half.
“We played 4-3-2-1, we wanted Tino to push them and we wanted our top boys Musona and Khama Billiat to be the players to take the ball between the defensive line and midfield, I thought we can be very dangerous with Billiat and Musona receiving the ball and facing their defensive line.”
There is no doubt that Logarusic is under pressure to deliver, with even a draw against the reigning African champions good enough to appease the nation. Friction that is said to be existing between Logarusic and his assistants cannot be ignored.
Back to back defeats against Algeria could see calls for Zifa to cut short the relationship with Logarusic.
Kadewere felt that they gave too much respect to the Algerians when they should have put up a fight. The Lyon striker feels that come Monday, they should press the Algerians and not allow their opponents to get comfortable on the ball.
“We respected them very well, they did what they wanted with us, instead of us showing them that we are there to fight, we are there to win the game. If we go back to Zimbabwe and the game on Monday, if we can produce what we produced in the second half, starting off with high press, making sure that we press together as a team, no one likes to being pressed,’’ Kadewere said.
The Warriors, who got back from Algeria on Friday had a training session at the National Sports Stadium yesterday and will fine tune again this today.
FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari yesterday joined the Warriors camp as a replacement for Elvis Chipezeze who suffered a knee injury in the first half against Algeria. Chipezeze, who was replaced at half time by Talbert Shumba had a scan on his knee yesterday.
With such a quick turnaround, it remains to be seen if Logarusic, besides replacing Chipezeze in goals makes changes to his starting line-up. The Sunday News