By Innocent Kurira
The Warriors will need to improve in their next match against Burkina Faso on Wednesday after losing the opening Chan Group A encounter against hosts Cameroon in Yaoundé on Saturday evening.
Salomon Banga Bindjeme scored an overhead kick in the 72nd minute as Cameroon snatched a 1-0 victory.
Not all hope is lost for the Warriors, who still can qualify for the next round if they get positive results in their last two group games.
After holding on against Cameroon for the greater part of the game, the Warriors should take a lot of lessons from their opening game.
Below are some of talking points from the Cameroon loss.
It’s now over a year since almost all players in the Warriors’ squad last played competitive football. It was always going to be a tough ask to expect the team to be at a 100 percent after such a long period of inactivity.
It was no secret that the Warriors lacked competitive match fitness, something that the coach tried to attain through a number of friendlies with Premier Soccer League sides. Based on the Saturday game, the Warriors’ performance was not far off the mark and they should do better when they face Burkina Faso on Wednesday.
No clear game plan
The hosts started the game on the front foot, with the visitors struggling to settle. The Warriors were forced to play deep in their own half as they absorbed pressure from the hosts. If you sit back, then at least try to be effective on the counter.
The few times the Warriors got opportunities on the break, they lost the ball needlessly. The Warriors chose to go the long ball route, which yielded no result as Cameroon dealt with these with much ease. Much needs to be done to draft up a clear way of playing for the next game simply because the long ball tactic will not work.
Zimbabwe were poor upfront, with just one shot on target while Cameroon had five. In total, Cameroon had 28 attempts to Zimbabwe’s two. The Warriors forced two corner kicks while Cameroon had six. This could well be blamed on the Warriors’ long ball style of play on the day.
This resulted in the forwards not getting any clean balls upfront, with the midfield being totally bypassed, something coach Zdravko Logarusic and his men need to work on ahead of the next encounter.
The Warriors goalkeeper put up an impressive show in goal, with a number of saves to deny the hosts. The score line after 90 minutes could have read differently had the Highlanders’ captain not been in top form.
He was let down by failure to deal with a delivery that led to the goal. Perhaps he could have done better dealing with the delivery but he had done enough to keep the Warriors in the game before they conceeded.
Zimbabwe are playing in their fifth Total Chan, a shared participation record with DR Congo and Uganda. The Chronicle