HARARE – It's never easy to say goodbye, especially when you had been hoping to stay for longer.
But there is no escaping the facts, and after the group stage at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon, Zimbabwe were sent packing and set off on a journey home where they will have to watch the rest of the tournament unfold from afar.
The Warriors had won the hearts of many fans with their gutsy performance in the opening match against Algeria which ended 2-2, but somehow, chose to disappoint in the ensuing two matches against Senegal (2-0) and Tunisia (4-2).
And now they head home with coach Kalisto Pasuwa insisting they have learnt their lessons against more superior opponents which they will use in future assignments.
“From our three matches, you could see that the potential is there but we need to prepare well. You could see some lapses in concentration in terms of our defending. We also needed cohesion in terms of possession with the ball but again we struggled,” Pasuwa said.
“We have learnt our lessons in this tournament that we need to put maximum concentration throughout the game. It’s important to put our heads together from the start until the end.”
Pasuwa guided a Zimbabwe side, who last featured at the Afcon back in 2006.
Having only made two appearances at the Afcon games, it was always going to be a tough ask playing in a group which featured teams who are ranked among the top five teams in Africa.
Warriors captain Katsande concurred with his coach saying they now needed to draw on the positives from the tournament.
“It was a good experience for us we just need to pick the positives out of this tournament and use them for the future,” Katsande said.
“We now know how it feels to be at such big tournament. We have tasted the environment and it’s quite interesting to be here.
“Of course we are disappointed to bow out in the group stages because it wasn’t our objective but at the same time we need to go back to the drawing board and correct our mistakes and work on them.
“We were playing some quality teams in Africa and we lacked concentration in some critical phases of the matches and we were duly punished.
“You know in such big competitions like this you need to stay focused throughout, but it happens what is important is how we react to it.
“If we had avoided conceding early goals, who knows, we could have even gone far. We learnt the hard way but life has to go on.”