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Date: 22 March 2019

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Assessing lessons from the S. Africa friendly

[Posted 18 Nov 2011]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Assessing lessons from the S. Africa friendly

The much talked about Southern Africa derby between neighbours Zimbabwe and South Africa at Harare's popular Rufaro Stadium has come and gone. Now is the time to take stock of the lessons from the success stories and shortcomings exposed in the match.

On Wednesday, Bafana visited their regional counterparts for a friendly match that got lmost everybody in the two countries excited. There is always much at stake when the two regional giants face-off, and Wednesday encoutner was no exception.

Both teams were eager to restore some battered pride following elimination from the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals on the final day of the qualifiers. Zimbabwe needed a simple draw to pip Mali for the pole position, and South Africa needed a victory to qualify, but both fell short on the final day.

There is such an intense rivalry between the two nations, such that a loss may result in calls for the losing coach to be fired, like waht befell Pitso Mosimane following the 2-1 loss in Harare. But something must be corrected. Bafana was not as weak as the South African media wanted to suggest, while Zimbabwe was not at their full strength as others stated.

Bafana lacked about eight regulars like Siphiwe Tshabalala, Katlego Mphela, Kagiso Dikgcoi, Steven Pienaar, Tshepo Masilela, Anele Ngcongca, Itumeleng Khune and Siyabonga Sangweni. Yet the team had some experienced players and some regulars like Morgan Gould, Daylon Classen, Moneeb Josephs, Bevan Fransman, Teko Modise, Hlompo Kekana, Thanduyise Kubhoni, among other very good players.

Zimbabwe were without the following regulars; Nyasha Mushekwi, Method Mwanjali, Edward Sadomba, Noel Kaseke, Daniel Veremu, Vusa Nyoni, Gilbert Mapemba, fit-again Onismor Bhasera who missed the 2012 Afcon qualifiers. These players were either not called at all or sat on the bench to give frienge players a chance. Only Mapemba was introduced with 3 minutes left. 

The teams were almost at par in terms of strength.

The Warriors can take some positives and take note of learning points from the match.

Positives from the Bafana friendly

Without a doubt, Zimbabwe had waited for about 8 years to taste victory over Bafana Bafana, after they last beat their southern neighbours in 2003. A win, even if it came against an under strength Bafana team ( according to South African media), is always something to savour for Warriors fans.

Another positive from the match is the fact that the Warriors showed the real Warriors spirit by fighting from a goal down to score two goals inside 8 minutes in the 2nd half.

It was also good to see the team enjoy possession for some long spells earlier in the first half, and early in the second half.

To see a Warriors squad with almost an average age of not more than 23 years was just great for Zimbabwean football! It shows that the future is great for the Warriors. There are more years which lie ahead for the likes of Knowledge Musona, Jimmy Jambo, Ovidy Karuru, Nyasha Mushekwi, Lincoln Zvasiya, Tapiwa Khumbuyani, Khama Billiat and others.

Mapeza took a courageous gamble by fielding youngster Zvasiya at the heart of the defence. He also gave 90 minutes run to other fringe players like Khumbuyani, Zhainu Jambo and Cuthbert Malajila, and gave some run to Archieford Gutu, Ramson Zhuwawo and Denver Mukamba. That means Mapeza has braoden his selection base.

Shortcomings and learning points

The following are the learning points pointed out by the match on Wednesday;

  • Transition from defence to attack via midfield is still a problem. Mapeza needs to work hard on that problem. It is disappointing that this problem has been there from the first match against Libeeria in the failed 2012 AFCON campaign.

  • Some yawning gaps existed in the Warriors team, especially when an attakc was broken by Bafana Bafana. The Warriors midfield was exposed and Katsande, Karuru, and Billiat struggled in their defensive roles and were not tracking back on time.

  • Even the most reliable anchor man in the team, captain of the day Tinashe Nengomasha allowed the likes of Teko to toy around with the ball and did not sufficiently close the opposition midfielders down quqickly enough.

  • Maybe, the problem was that Pitso Mosimane played with two many central midfielders, two who are combative (Kekana and Kubhoni) and two offensive ones who know how to come in and drift wide when necessary (Oupa Manyisa and Teko).

  • The solution for the Warriors on Wednesday would have been to encourage Jambo to attack more on the left channel like Khumbuyani did on the right, free Karuru to drift in and complement Nengomasha and Katsande. 

  • Loss of team shape was the major concern on the night. At this level of the competition, a team that loses its shape can expect to be punished severely by the likes of Egypt, Guinea and even Mozambique who have quick and experienced players who can read the game well. It is even very worrying that Mapeza thinks the team played well, and does not seem worried about this major problem.

  • The defence was shaky, terribly shaky for anyone's liking. While it is understandable that Zvasiya and Thomas Sweswe were playing together for the first time, the major challenge was that  the two players are both ball players and not tight markers, and one needed a defender of the calibre of Veremu to partner any of the two. In fact, the Sweswe/Mwanjali or Sweswe/Zvasiya combination does not work when the team is to be kept under pressure. A Veremu is needed in the equation.

  • Another challenge which Mapeza has to work on is the team's over reliance on Musona for goals. Another reliable goal scorer is needed to take the burden off Musona's shoulders. Sooner rather than later, the likes of Sadomba and Mushekwi have to come to the party ad begin to score regularly for the Warriors. If the problem persists, then Mapeza and his technical team migt have to broaden options and look at potential goal scorers such as Terrence Mandaza and Musa Mguni 


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