Mugove Chigada in Franceville, Gabon
WARRIORS’ coach Calisto Pasuwa believes they will play with more confidence against Senegal after holding Algeria 2-2 at the Stade de Franceville on Sunday.
Zimbabwe hadn’t been given a chance going into their opening Group B match of the Afcon finals in Gabon, but defied the odds and could have won had they put away all their chances.
Senegal beat Tunisia 2-0 in the other Group B game.
Pasuwa said they need to perfect their act and get a result against Senegal to keep their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages alive.
“If you defend for a long time, you end up making mistakes, hence you saw us conceding so many corner kicks in a few minutes. But again the good thing is that we got a point,” said Pasuwa.
“I think a point is better. I think this will motivate the boys to do a little better in their next game. We didn’t come here to add to the numbers and I even said so when we were in our meeting. We had problems, but when they were solved, we came here to do business,” he said.
Goals from Kuda Mahachi and Nyasha Mushekwi earned the Warriors a point, while Riyad Mahrez’s brace saved Algeria the blushes.
“In the first half, we were very offensive and we missed too many chances. Had we put away those chances, we could have buried them. In the second half we sat too deep and we conceded the equaliser. Yes, we lost two points because we wanted all three points.
“We are planning for Senegal now and remember they are very physical. They are one of the best teams in Africa. We saw our weaknesses when we played this game and we also saw our strengths. We have to utilise our strengths and build on that strength going forward. We will work on our weaknesses at training for the next game,” Pasuwa said.
He said Knowledge Musona’s injury early in the match shredded their plans, as he was forced to introduce Matthew Rusike.
“As you know Musona has been one of our regular players scoring goals. I heard it is a hamstring, but I don’t know how serious it is. We will hear from the doctors. But pulling him out in the early stages of the game was something else when we look at how we had planned,” said Pasuwa.
Soon after the Desert Foxes of Algeria had levelled the scores, substitute Cuthbert Malajila could have changed the situation, but selfishness got the better of him when he decided to go for glory from a tight angle instead of passing the ball to the unmarked Kuda Mahachi.
“In football at this level, you need to take your chances. It’s one of those chances that we missed. And there were so many chances that we missed also. We need to bury chances when we get them,” Pasuwa said.
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse on the other hand has made it clear that the Warriors are not underdogs.
“I think for Zimbabwe this is not my first time to see their team. I know Zimbabwe are a very good team. They have good players and they have good quality,” said Cisse.
“We are very happy to start the competition with a win against Tunisia and it is very important for confidence. The game against Zimbabwe is a massive game, it is a big game. My boys want to go to the second round and if we are to do that, we must do well against Zimbabwe and win the game.”
Despite the stars in the team over the years, Senegal haven’t lived up to expectations at this tournament.
“I don’t know. Many people ask me this question. Maybe it is the attitude that we have. When I took this job, my main aim was to change this mentality, change this attitude. Now the guys are working hard and they have ambition.
“The players have a solid mind and humility. Sometimes you cannot control the game by your technical ability, but by the mentality of the players. They need to be fighting and they need to be working hard. They do it and this is very impressive,” Cisse said.
Warriors star Khama Billiat, who had a brilliant game against Algeria, will be expected to inspire Zimbabwe again.
Defender Costa Nhamoinesu agrees that the Mamelodi Sundowns’ playmaker makes a difference.
“For me Khama played very well. He was taking on them one-on-one. He has talent, is intelligent and knows how to pick his spaces. With a bit of luck he could have scored. But overally we are happy he did well for the team,” said Nhamoinesu.
The Sparta Prague defender also had sympathy for Musona, who limped off injured early in the first half.
“Knowledge is one of our key players. He is one of our goal scorers and is also a skilful and technically gifted player. Coming out early, I can say was a blow for us, but health is one of the most important things for players. We worry about his health, but hopefully he will be fit for the next game. But his replacement was equally good. It shows that we are a team,” Nhamoinesu said.
Article Source: The Chronicle