WEDNESDAY was a Fifa friendly international day across the world.
While others countries used the day to shape up ahead of the next round of matches in the World Cup qualifying campaign, the Zimbabwe team – made up of locally-based players – was going through the motions by hosting minnows Lesotho at the Barbourfields in Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe have no pressing commitments ahead of them apart from the Cosafa Challenge Cup to be played here, having tumbled out of the World Cup campaign.
Further proof of the little significance of the match was that players from Harare only arrived in Bulawayo late on the eve of the match, which meant they trained as a squad for the first time on match day.
There were no top representatives from Zifa, the highest-ranked being technical director Nelson Matongorere and the FA’s boss in the region, Musa Mandaza.
And the Likuena (Crocodiles) looked like the better organised team of the two.
Their kitting, supporting staff and confidence were a far cry from the Lesotho which used to receive bashings by the Warriors in the old Cosafa Castle Cup.
Substitute defender Guthrie Zhokinyu headed home powerfully from a Philip Marufu free-kick with 10 minutes remaining after Thabo Masualle had given the visitors the lead with a retaken penalty on 35 minutes.
In between, the game had a few talking points.
Dynamos forward Marufu ran hard all afternoon, while in midfield Ramson Zhuwawo showed the kind of trickery and vision he has exhibited in Gunners colours in the PSL.Â He was replaced by his club-mate Willard Katsande in the second half, who despite consistently passing waywardly, made an instant impression on the small but noisy BF crowd.
Farai Vimisayi, a Dynamos target in the off-season, also shone on the right flank for Zimbabwe, complementing Marufu with a sudden burst of pace and dribbling skills.
“I’m quite happy with the performance,” said Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa. “If you consider that we only trained today (Wednesday) you can see that we didn’t play badly. I’m quite pleased. I would have wanted to have a look at six Monomotapa players, but then they have travelled to the DRC. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise because it gave me the opportunity to field other players who might not have had a chance. It was the first time for Ramson, Dylan (Chivandire), Reuben (Mhlanga) and Farai to play under me and it was good to see the way they played.”
Asked about the omission of Gunners hitman Norman Maroto from the team, Chidzambwa first said he didn’t believe a player had an automatic right to be in the national side by virtue of being the country’s leading goal scorer.
But when probed further he said: “Well, like I said this was an opportunity to give others a chance. Norman played under me at Dynamos for many years so I already know him.”
Enock Muchinjo in Bulawayo