Familiar lapse haunts DeMbare

DUBAI - Dynamos will forever rue their vulnerability to defend at set pieces after going down 3-0 to Tunisian side Club Athletic Bizertin in the African Champions League first round qualifier on Sunday.

This defeat was a result of the DeMbare players pressing the self-destruct button in the second half, allowing Bizertin to run away with the tie.

Conditions before the match seemed to favour the Zimbabwean champions as Bizertin were still trying to find their feet under new coach Kbaier Mondher, who was appointed only four days prior to the match.

The Bizerte weather, which was unwelcoming when DeMbare arrived last Thursday, improved on match day.

Sudanese referee Alfadil Hussein also put up a professional performance in the middle without giving any hometown decisions to the Dolphins.

The Zimbabwean champions conceded three soft goals from Ali Machani, Ahmed Harran (pen) and Fakherdinne Jaziri as a result of their poor communication and marking at dead ball situations.

Before even coming to Tunisia, DeMbare coach Calisto Pasuwa had warned his players about the danger Bizertin posed at restarts.

In the first half, DeMbare looked comfortable dealing with the high balls coming into their box.

Every player did their roles with a conviction while goalkeeper George Chigova, who has been criticised for failing to command his area, was coming out to help his defenders in the areal tussle.

For the first 45 minutes, Dynamos showed why they have a very good reputation as a strong club in the premier African inter-club competition.

Although the Dolphins enjoyed more of the possession, they could not find any space behind the visitors’ defence, well marshalled by Partson Jaure and Augustine Jaure.

Mbara is naturally a left-back and playing him at centre back was a high stakes gamble by Pasuwa and the coach can be vindicated for the move because the player did well in that new role.

Bizertin were restricted to long range shots that did very little to trouble Chigova, as DeMbare generally defended well as a team.

The home side’s most influential player in that half was Senegalese midfielder Youssoupha M’bengue, who was looking lively on the right every time he was having a go at Morris Kadzola.

Murape Murape and Stephen Alimenda were however pivoting well to help out Kadzola stop M’bengue getting into the danger area.

DeMbare’ plucky effort in the first half frustrated the Dolphins a lot because all their possession counted for nothing as they could not really test Chigova.

After the match Bizertin coach Kbaier Mondher said: “(In the first half) They (Dynamos) were operating with 10 players in a space of 30 metres and it seemed that it was going to be impossible to score but at halftime we spoke to the players and we need to do things differently.”

In the second half the situation definitely changed as the home side began to find space behind the DeMbare defence and were looking more threatening from set pieces.

That composure Dynamos had during set plays quickly disappeared as the visitors’ box became a panic station whenever Bizertin had a corner or a free kick near the danger area.

Four minutes after the break, Machani was allowed to rise inside the box and head past Chigova after Dynamos players failed to put pressure on winger Adel Med M’Hadhbi after a Bizertin corner kick.

For the second which came from the penalty spot, defender Fakherdinne Jaziri was not picked up when he headed M’Hadhbi’s corner kick and the ball struck Devon Chafa’s hand.

Harran beat Chigova from 12 yards out.

The third goal was also from a similar situation as DeMbare failed to deal decisively with a corner kick and Jaziri side footed the ball home from close range.

On DeMbare’s defending at set plays Pasuwa said: “I have been talking of these set pieces all day and the problem was that we were not attacking the ball when it was coming.”

The Zimbabwean champions now have a tall order to overturn this deficit in the second leg.

If Dynamos cannot find the four goals they now require, it will be the third time they would have been eliminated by a North African side.

In 2011, MC Algiers knocked Dynamos on away goals rule after their first round tie had finished 4-4 on aggregate.

Last year it was another disappointment for the Zimbabwean champions, who were thrashed 7-1 on aggregate by Tunisian giants Esperance.

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