Warriors coach Zdravko Lugarusic says he will approach tomorrow’s clash against Algeria with the same positive intent that served his team so well in the second half of the two teams’ first meeting on Thursday.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Croat admitted the negative approach he employed against the African champions was to blame for his team’s 3-1 defeat in Algiers.
In a far cry from their first half performance when the Warriors creaked with caution, they changed to more expansive and attacking football in the second half that caused a lot of problems for the hosts.
Speaking to Standardsport after the team’s training session at the National Sports Stadium yesterday, Lugarusic vowed to take the game to the Algerians from the first whistle.
“We are going to start the way we finished and hopefully we can get a result. We could see that Algeria were not very comfortable being pressed high up the field and we will make sure that they are not comfortable from the start,” he said.
But while the team will go for broke, the defensive side is still a worry for right-back Tendai Darikwa.
The Nottingham Forest defender was one of the top performers albeit in a defensive line-up that was strewn with defensive frailties.
He is demanding an improvement.
“First of all, Algeria are a good team. They are the champions of Africa, and before the game we knew it would be a difficult match, but the goals that we conceded were poor and when you concede poor goals against a team with the quality of Algeria it’s always going to be difficult,” Darikwa said.
Algeria took a 2-0 halftime lead following goals from Baghdad Bounedjah and Sofiane Feghouli before Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez added a third one halfway through the second half.
Zimbabwe got their consolation goal from France-based Tino Kadewere 10 minutes before full time.
The Warriors had done extremely well in the match until the 31st minute when goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze parried a seemingly easy take from Feghouli on to the path of Bounedjah.
Minutes before the break Divine Lunga allowed Mahrez a chance to turn to his favoured left foot before he sent a lovely cross that picked out Feghouli, who headed home a second for the hosts.
In the second half, Mahrez was allowed to easily dance past a cluster of Warriors bodies before dinking a third over substitute goalkeeper Talbert Shumba.
“I think Monday’s game will be difficult again, but we should learn from our mistakes and start better and see how it goes. I think a team of Algeria’s calibre if you let them play and pass the ball it will be difficult.
“We sat back too much and it was a very comfortable first half for them. We need to step higher up the pitch. We all need to be better as defenders and avoid silly mistakes and the midfielders should control the game better and upfront we should take chances when they come. It’s a team game, so we learn from our mistakes as a team and improve as a team,” the Nottingham Forest man said.
Chipezeze is out of the match and has been replaced by FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari in the squad, although it is likely that Shumba will start ahead of Mhari after his commanding display when he came on in the second half in Algiers.
Lugarusic said there were injury concerns for skipper Knowledge Musona and Jordan Zemura, but he said it’s nothing to worry about.
He will be looking to take maximum points and inflict a first defeat on the African champions in 22 matches.
The Zimbabwe team arrived back in the country on Friday night and unlike in the first match they have a couple of days to prepare as a team before the match tomorrow afternoon.
The match will be played in an empty stadium because of Covid-19 regulations.