HARARE-Evans Rusike and Tatenda Mudewe handed the Zimbabwe Warriors a 2-nil win over Comoros in a CHAN qualifier first leg match at Rufaro Stadium this Sunday afternoon.
The Warriors started brightly and found the net in the 9th minute after Rusike received a back heel pass from Blessing Moyo, turning his two markers inside out before a sublime finish that sent the Rufaro full house into wild celebrations.
The Warriors, comprised of only locally based players, pressed on with captain Danny ‘Deco’ Phiri and Wisdom Mutasa missing a couple of chances as the team went to half time leading 1-nil.
Zimbabwe left it too late to bury the game as Marshall Mudewe capitalised on the lapse of concentration on the rather stubborn Comoros defence to slot home from close range in the 90th minute.
The Warriors gaffer, Callisto Pasuwa bemoaned missed chances, saying the team should have won by a wider margin.
Despite poor preparations for the match, the team’s performance gave a smile on the face of local football lovers who are longing for better football administration.
The win comes a week after the Warriors beat Malawi in a Group L Africa Cup of Nations match after travelling 604.5 kilometers by road, just a few hours before the tie with the Flames following players’ protests over unpaid allowances.
The Warriors’ win Sunday and last week, has been welcomed by Zimbabweans, who still vividly remember the good old times when the national squad was coached by the late German Reinhard Fabisch, who had highly-rated players like Agent Sawu, Rahman Gumbo, Ephraim Chawanda, Bruce Grobbelaar, Peter Ndlovu, Mercedes Sibanda, Francis Shonhai, Willard Khumalo, Joel Luphahla, Wilfred Mugeyi and several others.
In the latest game, coach Calisto Pasuwa’s players proved to be too strong for the islanders as they almost outclassed them in all departments.
Rwanda will host the 2016 Chan, a tournament Zimbabwe have qualified for in all the past three editions of the tournament.
Zimbabwe have done well in this tournament, making it to the semi-finals of the 2014 edition held in South Africa before losing to eventual champions, Libya. The squad qualified for the previous two editions of the tournament under different coaches.
In 2009, Sunday Chidzambwa took them to the Ivory Coast while Madinda Ndlovu led them in Sudan in 2011.
Meanwhile, some Zimbabweans are not using crowd funding application, gofundme.com, to raise money for Pasuwa, the technical team and players, who have not been paid allowances for a long time by the broke ZimbabweFootball Association.
Well-wishers have so far raised $275 of the targeted $5,000 for the Warriors since the launch of the fund five days ago in an attempt to motivate them to do well in the Africa safari.
A post on http://www.gofundme.com/x297fw(Zimbabwe Soccer Blanket Challenge), with a photograph of Pasuwa wrapped in a blanket before boarding a Warriors bus to Malawi, reads as follows:
“On Friday 12 June, the Zimbabwe warriors had to undertake a grueling 10 hour journey by road to Malawi to fulfill an Africa Cup Of Nations qualifying match.
The preparations were shoddy. The players have not been paid any bonusses from previous matches. To make matters worse their bonus is a paltry $65 each. The coach Calisto Pasuwa has not been paid anything despite leading the young warriors to the All Africa games finals in Congo, or beating Swaziland in Olympic qualifiers.
There are many times that the soccer team has given us something to smile about in a depressed economy and it is important that we show our support.
This fund is meant to be shared equally amoungst the players and technical team that undertook the gruelling journey to Malawi and won 2-1 against all odds.”