HARARE - Harare City coach Taurai Mangwiro was impressed with new signings Raphael Manuvire and Ronald Chitiyo after their debut against AS Adema in the African Confederation Cup preliminary round on Saturday.
The Sunshine Boys started the first leg at Rufaro Stadium lively and took a 2-0 first half lead courtesy of goals from Chitiyo and Manuvire.
By then the Zimbabwean side should have been at least four goals to the good but they wasted a number of good scoring opportunities especially in the opening 10 minutes.
However, all the good work in the first half was undone in a brief five minute spell after the breather.
City defenders allowed Adema’s Nomenjanahary Rajaoniasy a free header to pull one back just two minutes after the break.
The Malagasy side were level on the 51st minute when full back Brian Moyo brought down Jaotombo Bourahim inside the box.
Vaovy Kassah slotted the spot kick past Maxwell Nyamupanedengu to turn the game on its head.
Harare city toiled for the remainder of the match as they searched for the winner.
In the end, it took a moment of sheer brilliance from Manuvire, who beat two defenders before aiming for the bottom left hand corner of Tsivery Andrimiarintsoa’s goal.
The goal brought relief to Mangwiro as a draw would have meant a tall order for the Zimbabwean side in the return leg in Antananarivo in two weeks’ time.
With both of his marquee signings ending up on the score sheet, Mangwiro was satisfied with their performances.
“I thought they (Chitiyo and Manuvire) did well. It could have been better I must say but at the same time coming from another team it’s very difficult to gel in early,” said Mangwiro.
“And that they managed to score on their debut, it means going forward they are bound to make a mark.
“As the game progressed AS Adema grew in confidence and players like Raphie and Rooney are not the physical type.
“You don’t see them once the game becomes more physical but I’m happy Raphie; he was the creative hub of the team. He was there for us when we needed him the most. Let’s hope we will be able to build on this first leg lead.”
Mangwiro added: “It was always difficult going into this first leg. We had little knowledge of our opponents and today we have seen them play.
“Now we can plan going forward. I foresee a better performance in the second leg than what we did today.”
With a number of his players part of the Warriors flops at the just-ended African Nations Championship (Chan) finals, Mangwiro feels they are yet to get over Zimbabwe’s early exit from the competition.
“Sometimes it was awful finishing and also giving credit to their goalkeeper. These are things you know we need to continue working on and hopefully one of these days we will come good,” he said.
“You look back at the match and we had players that were part of the Warriors squad at the Chan finals and these guys are under pressure.
“People feel they underperformed; they didn’t do well as we expected them to do and you will find it impacted negatively on a number of these guys.
“Francisco (Zekumbawire) having missed the first chance, he was never himself, so a lot of these guys were under pressure.
“We had talked about it but I know there will be an improvement come the return leg.”