HARARE – Zimbabwe will for the first time miss out on the African Nations Championships (Chan) since its inception in 2009 after crashing out of the tournament at the hands of Namibia in the second leg of the qualifier following a penalty shoot-out here yesterday.
The Warriors, who were bidding for a fifth straight appearance at the Chan tournament, could not overturn a first leg 1-0 defeat after an uninspiring performance apart from Prince Dube’s goal on the 39th minute.
Dube’s goal meant the tie was level 1-1 on aggregate following the Brave Warriors’ victory in the reverse encounter to send the match straight into penalty lottery.
The Warriors converted their spot kicks through Devon Chafa, Milton Ncube, Praise Tonha and Dennis Dauda while goalkeeper Herbert Rusawo saw his effort saved by his counterpart Edward Maova, who had earlier replaced first choice Loydt Kazapua after he picked up a knock.
In reply, the Brave Warriors converted all their spot kicks through Petrus Shitembi, Hendrik Somaeb, Dynamo Fredericks, Welwin Ihanamub and Immanuel Heita to send them into the last round of the qualifiers where they now meet Comoros who beat Lesotho 2-1 on aggregate.
The Warriors were never really in the game as they never showed any zeal or determination to win apart from Dube’s moment of brilliance after he outpaced the Brave Warriors’ defence before unleashing a low shot into the back of the net.
Jubilant Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti commended the zeal and determination shown by his team over both legs.
“I think the Zimbabwe team were better than us. Technically, they have got very good players as compared to us. They have more depth than us and also from the match fitness point of view they were better than us,” Mannetti said after the match.
“I count myself fortunate and I am very proud of this achievement beating a powerhouse like Zimbabwe. That’s a huge achievement for Namibia. It’s not every day that you beat a country like Zimbabwe but over and above they were better prepared than us.
“They have a league running unlike us. But when you take it on the day I think throughout the two legs, home and away, Namibia wanted it more even when we were playing a bigger opponent than us. We were more willing and determined to win it.”
Namibia were the better side especially in the first half where they came close on several occasions with well perfected counter attacks. However, it was the Warriors who went on to score after some lapse in concentration by the Namibian defence.
That was the only Warriors’ meaningful attack and Namibia were unlucky in the dying stages not to equalise as they twice saw their efforts cleared from the line.
Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa was at a loss for words following the defeat before finding comfort in blaming the injuries to some of the players, who could not make it for the game.
“We played reasonably well, taking into consideration that it’s a new team. We had only two guys in starting line-up who played at the Cosafa tournament. We were missing a couple of players through forced changes,” Chidzambwa said after the match.
“Ocean Mushure is injured, Gerald Takwara is not feeling well, Talent Chawapiwa went to his new base so we were forced to make a lot of changes. Also we had less time to prepare for this tournament we only trained once with the full squad.
“In tournaments like these you need a bit of time to prepare. I think our counterparts were in camp since they left the Cosafa tournament. So if you don’t really prepare your team well in a short space of time it will be difficult.
“But I think we were unlucky. As a new team I think we defended well and we should have actually fought to get the second goal which we couldn’t do.
“But generally I’m pleased with their performance since we had a short space of time to prepare.”