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Mapeza disappoints

by Staff reporter
15 Nov 2021 at 05:25hrs | Views
Zimbabwe 1-1Ethiopia
THE Warriors brought the curtain down on the 2022 Fifa World Cup football campaign to a disappointing note after they blew their only chance of winning late on in the final qualifying game against Ethiopia at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.

Kuda Mahachi had given Norman Mapeza's men hope at least to claim their only win in the campaign with a well-struck 37th minute goal. But a defensive lapse in the last three minutes gifted the visitors an equaliser.

Abubeker Nasir rounded off goalkeeper Taimon Mvula and slotted home, to ensure that Zimbabwe finished the campaign winless after playing six games in Group G.

The Warriors finished bottom of the group with two points while Ethiopia sealed third place with five points. Mapeza was not happy with the way his team gave away their lead in the final moments of the game.

"It was all about game management. It was only three minutes to go and instead of trying to play that ball inside, he just needed to put it on the line.

"It was only about game management. That's the most painful part. After working so hard, after looking so organised and then you concede in the last minutes of the game.

"But that's part of the game. I haven't been working for so many days with these guys. But in those few days that we have worked together, I am proud of the boys. It's just a matter of time. We can do better as time goes on," said Mapeza.

This match had since been downgraded to a hopeless dead rubber in terms of qualification but Zimbabwe needed at least to get some consolation at home in the final match.

And it turns out to be one of the worst World Cup qualifying campaigns by the Warriors. The plot was lost from that first game against South Africa at home in August, which many felt was there for the taking.

But Zimbabwe failed to utilise home comforts in the goalless draw. Losing the second game in Ethiopia was unacceptable and it cost Croatian coach Zdravko Logarusic his job after failing in a fresh mandate to collect at least four points from those opening two matches.

Mapeza, who took over the reins on an interim basis, had started a rebuilding phase after Zimbabwe's fortunes remained suppressed following the back-to-back defeats to Ghana.

They also lost to South Africa last week to continue on a dismal run of four consecutive defeats going into yesterday's game.

Mapeza's contract ended with yesterday's game and Zifa are set to make a decision on the way forward, with the 2021 Afcon finals set to take place in Cameroon in January.

Both Zimbabwe and Ethiopia were using the final games of the campaign to prepare for the Afcon finals where they are both part of the 24 finalists.

Ethiopia dominated the early exchanges yesterday with Zimbabwe doing most of the chasing. The visitors enjoyed knocking the ball around but there were no clear cut opportunities coming their way.

They made strong appeals for a penalty after Dukele Dawa Hutessa fell inside the box when coming face to face with goalkeeper Mvula but the referee turned a blind eye to the incident in the 13th minute.

Ishmael Wadi failed to keep his shot down when he latched on to the ball at the back post in the 28th minute. Then Mahachi spotted the keeper off his line and took a shot from a distance to put Zimbabwe in front after 37 minutes.

Ethiopia skipper Gatane Kebede was denied by the crossbar when he unleashed a curling shot on the edge of the box soon after the restart.

But with the match winding towards the end, Zimbabwe paid dearly for the momentary lapse in defence, where Gerald Takwara and Alec Mudimu had done well commanding the backline.

Ethiopia's prodigy Nasir equalised for the visitors with three minutes of regulation time remaining. Nasir found himself with acres of space in the penalty box, rounded off the keeper before slotting into the empty nets.

Zimbabwe: T. Mvula, G. Murwira, G. Takwara, A. Mudimu, B. Kangwa, K. Madzongwe, T. Kamusoko, I. Wadi, K. Billiat (J. Fabisch, 54th minute), K. Mahachi (T. Chimwemwe, 65th minute), D. Moyo (K Mutizwa, 80th minute).
Ethiopia: B. Shanko, G. Kabede (T. Yalew, 68th minute), A. Reshad, M. Debebe, R. Yusef, A. Tonjo, G. Johannes, J. Sherefa (M. Melayu, 68th minute), S. Bekele (L. Tafase, 79th minute), D. Hutessa (A. Selemon 79th minute), A. Nasir.

Source - The Chronicle