The Warriors froze on the big occasion as they began their 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Group G, with a frustrating goalless home against an inexperienced Bafana Bafana side, at the National Sports Stadium, yesterday.
The coach Zdravko Logarusic was frank, in the post-match press conference that it was two points lost, right at the beginning of the long marathon, which will see them fly out to Ethiopia today, for their second group game, set for next Tuesday.
The Warriors looked largely a disjointed outfit and the coach blamed the lack of match fitness for the poor show.
While Loga had to deal with the crisis in central defence, by turning to a makeshift pairing of Alec Mudimu and Onismor Bhasera, the spark that was expected upfront, did not materialise.
France-based forward Tino Kadewere was stranded upfront, for most of the game, with no clear supply of balls while skipper Knowledge Musona and the team’s poster boy Khama Billiat struggled to make the impact to turn the game in their team’s favour.
Loga said he was not surprised by his team’s subdued performance, since most of his players, were coming from pre-season.
But, a point against this new-look and poor Bafana Bafana, which also looked jaded for most of the match, was a big loss for Zimbabwe.
“It was a difficult game,” said Loga.
“We had problems with match fitness, only four of our players, have been playing regular football, that is, Bhasera, Khama, Marshall (Munetsi) and Musona.
“But, the rest of our players haven’t been in action, so it means we have problems with match fitness. Each of them was trying their best but we didn’t have the individual brilliance, which can decide a game and, also, a bit of match fitness.
“We needed a bit of individual brilliance but we didn’t get it. At the end a draw was the result and we have to look at some other games, to get those points, which we dropped today.
“But, the hope is there, the last time I was looking in the history, when you qualified for Egypt (2019 Afcon finals) you didn’t win any game here (at the National Sports Stadium), you won in DR Congo.”
Someone should have told him that the Warriors beat Congo-Brazzaville 2-0, at the giant stadium, during those qualifiers, and also thrashed Liberia 3-0, with Musona grabbing a hattrick.
The match statistics showed the Warriors had one just shot on target, and were bossed by their opponents, in terms of ball possession.
Although there were no clear-cut chances, at either ends, it was South Africa who threatened first, when Talbert Shumba produced the spectacular moment of the match, twisting himself in the air, to punch out Teboho Mokoena’s beauty, after 17 minutes.
Billiat, Musona and Marshall Munetsi then sent their efforts over.
Then, in the 65th minute, South Africa thought they had found the opener, when Shumba fumbled an effort from the right and the ball was bouncing home only for defender Takudzwa Chimwemwe to make a crucial clearance, from the line, after 65 minutes.
Shumba was again called to action, with 15 minutes remaining, when he blocked a low shot from Percy Tau, after the Al Ahly man had benefitted from an error of judgment, by Divine Lunga.
Loga is expected to ring changes for the next match.
“We have five games more, if we want to make (it a) success, it means we have to pick up some points,’’ said Loga.
“For example, against South Africa we expected three points for sure.
“So, we have to look to do that in some other games that we maybe are not expecting to collect three points, it doesn’t matter in South Africa, Ghana up there, Ethiopia.
“We will try to go step by step, today we started with a draw, not exactly what we wanted but, at the moment, that’s what we have.
“Some players didn’t show me what they needed to show me and that means we will have to make some changes.’’
Bafana coach, Hugo Broos, was delighted with the point, away from home.
“I am happy with the draw because both of the two teams had the chances to win,’’ he said.
“We all had few chances, and not more than that, so, I am happy with the point but I feel we could have done something better today.
“It was an opportunity for us to win this game because of the problems that Zimbabwe had (before the game). But, okay, we all saw the game.’’
T. Shumba, T. Chimwemwe, D. Lunga, A. Mudimu, O. Bhasera, M. Munetsi, T. Kamusoko, K. Mahachi (T. Rusike, 57th min), K. Billiat, K. Musona, T. Kadewere (T. Dzvukamanja, 57th min)
R. Williams, T. Morena, M. Nyiko, Rushine De Reuck, S. Xulu, T. Mokoena, M. Mvala, G. Links (B. Hlongwane, 46th min), P. Tau (S. Mbule, 77th min), E. Makgopa, L. Singh (V. Letsoalo, 72nd min). The Chronicle