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Date: 25 April 2019

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Why Warriors fell to Niger in CHAN

[Posted 07 Feb 2011]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Norman Maroto was left on the bench as Sibanda and Kawinga failed to inspire Zim against Niger

The Warriors could blame everything for their 0-1 loss to Niger, but if the truth be told, none of what happened prior to the match could justify the disappointing loss to the minnows. A combination of  a terrible attitude, tactics and bad luck could be better scapegoats.

Prior to the match, the Zimbabwean camp complained about their punishing travelling schedule, which took them through Nairobi, Kenya to Wadi Mehdani via Khartoum in Sudan.

The Warriors' CHAN coach Madinda Ndlovu complained during the week that the travel arrangements had deprived the team of precious training time. The team failed to train in Nairobi, and also lost further training time when they arrived in Wad Mehdani.

Upon their checking into their allocated hotel rooms, the Zimbabweans bemoaned the state of their rooms, and appeared surprised that the Niger team, which camped at the same hotel, never complained about the hotel conditions.

Interestingly the Warriors and one of the local newspapers even found it strange that the Niger camp never complained about the state of their rooms. They went on to mock the Niger camp by suggesting that they probably have worse hotels back home in Niger.

And thats exactly what made the difference at the end of the day at Mehdani Stadium on Saturday night, the players' attitude towards life in Sudan. 

The Niger team focussed on what mattered more, that is the game on Saturday, and not the food, the water and the conditions of the rooms, which the Warriors' camp appeared to have taken special notice of.

Living condirtions are important for any human being, but there is need to differentiate between being home and playing away. Even at home, the Warriors never received one of the best treatments from their Association, the Zimbabwe Football Assocation.

Surely this is not the first time that the Zimbabweans have travelled away from home, and they are not oblivious of living conditions in most African states' hotels. To get consumed by what they encountered in Sudan is not a sign of maturity and readiness to be the 'Warriors' the team is expected to be, and even borders on irresponsibility.

South African players, without a doubt, are used to better living conditions during camps in their own country, but they never raised a word of complaint about living conditions, and the result is there for all to see. They beat the more fancied Ghana team 2-1 on the same day.

The attitude in the Zimbabwean camp proved to be the team's worst enemy off and on the pitch.

Fair enough, misfortune, it could be argued, played a role in the defeat on the night. In the opening 30 minutes, Charles Sibanda and strike partner Clive Kawinga were unlucky to miss from close range, while Joel Ngodzo's effort crushed against the cross bar.

In the second half, Eric Mudzingwa was twice denied by the upright post, and goalkeeper Saminou Kabara Rabo was the hero of the Niger team, as he thwarted effort after effort from the marauding Zimbabweans.

It sounds like a real sucker punch, that the Warriors fell to a simple 75th minute goal during moments when the defence was at sea, and Abdoulkader Tiemou Adamou was allowed acres of space to poke the ball past Washington Arubi.

The 75th minute chance was the best and probably the only clear chance Niger got in the second half, in a match in which the Zimbabweans dominated, but did not show enough hunger to win the match.

The Warriors' next assignment is against Ghana, who are also smarting from a morale-sapping 2-1 defeat at the hands of a make-shift South African team, made up of First Division and Vodacom league players.

Madinda might need to improve his strikeforce, instead of playing with two strikers whose pedigree to score goals is in doubt. Yes, it is no fluke that Sibanda is Footballer of the Year, but he is not a trusted gun-slinger. Neither is Kawinga.

Ndlovu's choice of his strikeforce against Niger, ahead of proven goal scorers like Norman Maroto and Sithole is very puzzling. The tactics were certainly suspect on the day, and the coach should take some responsibility for the poor result against minnows Niger.

Madinda has the opportunity to make amends in the match against Ghana. 




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