By Langton Nyakwenda
Following their listless performance against an experimental South Africa side in their opening match of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, the Warriors now need to up the ante in Ethiopia, but they will have to do so without their top striker Tino Kadewere.
The Olympic Lyon star is a major doubt for Tuesday’s Group G clash after aggravating his groin injury in the Warriors uninspiring 0-0 draw against Bafana Bafana at the National Sports Stadium on Friday afternoon.
He was replaced by Orlando Pirates striker Terrence Dzvukamanja after 57 minutes, as it became clear the Warriors’ trusted gunman would not add any further value to the team because of the injury, which has also affected his start to the 2021/2022 French Ligue 1 campaign.
Kadewere was expected to undergo an MRI scan yesterday, a few hours before the Warriors left for Bahir Dar, where they are set to battle it out with Ethiopia at the Bahir Dar Stadium at 6pm on Tuesday.
Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare also acknowledged fears the striker could be out of the crucial tie at a time the team needed to atone for their poor showing on Friday.
“It’s (the injury) not looking good, but he will have to go for an MRI scan before we leave so that we can get a clear indication of the seriousness of the injury,” Mpandare said yesterday.
The Warriors left for Addis Ababa shortly before 4pm yesterday, from where they will connect to the match venue.
They are scheduled to hold two training sessions today and tomorrow before facing the Walias in their second match of Group G assignments.
Ethiopia lost 0-1 to Ghana at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium on Friday night and are bottom in Group G after the first round of fixtures.
South Africa, who travelled to Harare with a bunch of rookies, host Ghana at FNB Stadium at 6pm tomorrow in a game the Warriors and their disappointed legion of fans will follow closely.
The Black Stars got their World Cup bid off to a winning start on Friday night.
On their part, Zimbabwe have to step a gear up if they are to recover lost ground in a delicate group that has been deemed one of the trickiest in the road to next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar.
The Warriors looked clueless without a playmaker and lacked the cutting edge upfront despite having big-name players such as Khama Billiat, skipper Knowledge Musona and Kadewere.
As has often happened in his games, coach Zdravko “Loga’’ Logarusic seemed to also fail to come up with Plan B once his star men failed to come to the party.
Loga, who just escaped the axe amid revelations the ZIFA technical and development committee had recommend his dismissal, also knows pressure will mount should his charges fail to secure a result in Ethiopia.
A draw might not be good enough given the fact that the Warriors dropped two crucial points at home against South Africa.
The Croat, whose squad selection has been riddled with controversy, is worried about the lack of individual brilliance in his side.
“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 we dropped today (Friday),” Logarusic told the media after the drab draw.
Zimbabwe face an Ethiopian side that is ranked 137th in the world, 19 places below them, but recent results have proved there are no small teams in football.
This is the first time Zimbabwe are playing Ethiopia since November 13, 1988 when the Warriors won 2-1 in a Cecafa Cup first round match.
Maybe the Warriors can draw some comfort in the fact that Ethiopia have not won at home in their last two World Cup qualifiers.
They lost 3-4 to Congo on November 14, 2015, before they were held to a goalless draw by Lesotho in a preliminary match on September 4, 2019.
Most of their players ply their trade in the Ethiopian top-flight.
One of their most prized assets is striker Shimeles Bekele Godo, who plays for Egyptian Premier League side Misr Lel Makasa.
The Warriors will be hoping for a better performance, and Musona acknowledged as much yesterday, indicating that they were eager to correct the mistakes they made against easily the weakest Bafana Bafana side to visit them in Harare.
In Kadewere’s absence, Loga could start with Dzvukamanja and switch Musona into a more central attacking role.
The 55-year-old coach is, however, likely to retain the combination of France-based Marshall Munetsi and ZESCO United player Thabani Kamusoko in midfield. The Sunday Mail