Warriors let Desert Foxes off the hook

HARARE - Although Zimbabwe won many hearts with their plucky display against Algeria at the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday, it was a case of two points dropped rather than one gained.

Algeria, who are tipped as one of the favourites to win the tournament, were lucky to walk away from the Stade de Franceville with a draw after the Warriors let them off the hook.

First half goals from Kuda Mahachi and Nyasha Mushekwi had cancelled out Riyad Mahrez’s 13th minute opener.

Zimbabwe went on to create numerous chances but failed to increase their lead as they were denied by the inspired Desert Foxes goalkeeper Rais Mbholi.

Algeria were a disjointed lot on Sunday as they only made sporadic raids through Yacine Brahimi and Mahrez, especially in the first half.

The normally dangerous Islam Slimani was kept quite by the Warriors centre backs Costa Nhamoinesu and Elisha Muroiwa.

It is very unlikely Zimbabwe will find another incoherent side like Algeria for the remainder of the tournament.

After an explosive opening 45 minutes where the Warriors took the game to the North Africans, Zimbabwe surprisingly sat back in the second period.

Kalisto Pasuwa’s lack of experience at the top level was cruelly exposed as he allowed his team to keep a deep line defending inside their box.

At times, the Warriors were losing possession in dangerous zones thereby overloading the defence. 

It was wave after wave of Algeria attack especially in the last 25 minutes as George Leekens’ side searched for an equaliser.

When the equaliser finally arrived, it was because the Warriors defence was back peddling towards their box and failed to stop Mahrez.

The Leicester City forward was allowed too much space in the final third and unleashed a low shot which bounced awkwardly in front of Warriors keeper Tatenda Mkuruva.

The goalkeepers’ view of the shot was also obscured as there were too many Zimbabwean shirts in front of him.

If the Warriors defenders had pushed up they would have put pressure on Mahrez and gave Mkuruva a clear sight of the ball.

Even Pasuwa admitted after the match that defending in large numbers was not the best option against a side with individual quality like Algeria.

“We suffered because the players sought to defend and soak up the pressure from Algeria.

“However, I have taken both positives and negatives from the game and I hope to make amends,” he said.

Before the equaliser, Warriors forward Cuthbert Malajila had a glorious chance to seal the win but decided to shoot straight at Mbholi.

Malajila had an option to go for the far post or to pass to a better positioned Mahachi. 

Warriors captain Willard Katsande, who put in a splendid performance in midfield, also felt they deserved maximum points.

“We need to give credit to the guys.

“We worked so hard and we were so close to clinch the three points especially if we had buried the last chances before they equalised it could have settled the match,” Katsande said.

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