RUBAVU - Warriors vice-captain Knox Mutizwa has seen enough in the home-based national team to convince him there is light at the end of the tunnel.
This is despite the fact that the team exited the 2016 edition of the African Nations Championships (Chan) in the group stage after losing both their first two encounters against Zambia and Mali.
Positives were always likely to be in short supply after the Warriors lost their opening two matches to Zambia and Mali by identical 1-0 score lines but encouraging performances by Calisto Pasuwa’s charges were small crumbs of comfort.
Yet Pasuwa’s decision to take a relatively inexperienced team to this tournament specifically designed for players plying their trade in local leagues backfired and adds another “what if” question to the Warriors’ Chan charge sheet after two defeats against Chipolopolo and the Eagles sealed their early exit.
The Warriors who finished fourth at the last edition two years ago in South Africa found the going tough and remain rooted at the bottom of Group D with neither a goal nor a point.
Pasuwa has to take in some stern criticism over his team’s selection and tactics following the team’s humiliating exit.
But Mutizwa, however, while admitting disappointment sees more positives and believes that if the team is kept together they can actually form the backbone of the future Warriors team.
“It was very disappointing being knocked out in the group stages especially given the fact that our country was rallying behind us,” Mutizwa said.
“You know football is a very funny game. I think we did everything but we just failed to get the goals. I felt in both matches we were superior than our opponents. We were punished for missing those good scoring opportunities.”
“There is need for us to look into the future. I think we have an exciting team capable of doing wonders in the future. The important thing is that this team be kept together for future tournaments. I am sure we will get it right next time.”
The Warriors were the better team in both matches creating chances only to be let down in the final third.
“I think as strikers we are mainly to blame. We let ourselves and the nation down by failing to score. But it happens in football especially in tournaments like these you can’t afford to waste chances,” the Highlanders frontman said.
“We will work hard next time. In soccer if you lose I don’t think there is any need to point fingers at anyone. We don’t want to give excuses. Of course when going into tournaments like these there is need for playing friendly matches but we cannot give that as an excuse. I think instead of trying to point fingers let’s build on the positives that we draw from the tournament.”
The Warriors face Uganda in their last Group D match and Mutizwa has rallied his teammates to at least sign off with a win.
“We are now looking forward to the game against Uganda and we need to finish the tournament at least with a win. We want to fight and win for our country. Now that we are out of the tournament I think there is pride at stake,” said Mutizwa.
“Uganda are a good side with a very good coach but we will do our best to ensure we at least get a win. They play good football, fast and full of energy. They have also been together for a long time but we need to do everything to win.”