Zimbos show Warriors some love

HARARE - The Warriors might be a perennial bore and pain to some local fans but they remain firmly tucked in the hearts of most football loving supporters.

On a day English Premier League giants Manchester United and Liverpool clashed in one of the world’s eagerly anticipated matches characterised by a fierce rivalry which dates back decades to the days of Matt Busby and Bill Shankly – Zimbabwe was taking on Algeria at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

Both matches were taking place at the same time; most sports bars, betting houses, entertainment hideouts and homes chose to switch to the match pitting the Warriors and The Desert Foxes instead of tuning in to Old Trafford.

At the heart of Harare’s Central Business District, lies one of the busiest betting houses with state of the art self-service terminals and the walls decorated with numerous flat screen televisions.

There were also other matches taking place at the same time across Europe which were being shown on the television screens.

But most of the punters had their eyes glued on the screen showing the Zimbabwe vs Algeria match.

It was difficult to get a clear view of the action as people jostled for a better vantage point.

Even when Liverpool took the lead in the 27th minute through a penalty from the boot of James Milner, it was barely noticed in the packed betting house.

It was the same reaction with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 84th minute equaliser for the Red Devils.

The patrons were spellbound by the end to end action in Franceville as the Warriors and the Desert Foxes traded blows.

In the end, Zimbabwe and Algeria played out an entertaining 2-2 draw after goals from Kuda Mahachi and Nyasha Mushekwi while Riyad Mahrez netted a brace for the North Africans.

It was only after the final whistle in Franceville that most people began to inquire the result between Manchester United and Liverpool.

“We love this team, we call them Warriors in moments of glory and ‘worry us’ when they play like kindergarten kids just like Cuthbert Malajila and Tatenda Mkuruva did – conniving to throw away the match in such an embarrassing fashion,” Rutendo ‘Border’ Kativhu of Mufakose told the Daily News on Sunday.

“For Malajila the easiest decision he would have made was to pass the ball to a teammate on his right to slot into an empty net while Mahrez’s second goal was a harmless looking shot – we should have won that match.”

Mary Shupikai Mujati of Greendale said local is lekker.

“It is no lie that we fondly follow the Premier League and other leagues such as La Liga and Bundesliga; that’s just as far as club football is concerned and when our national team is doing duty on the continent or at world stage we just have to be proud of our boys no matter how much agony we have gone through in supporting them,” Mujati said.

A staunch Arsenal fan Daisy Taedzerwa, who is based in the United Kingdom, said she had the easiest of choices to make on the day because her team had displaced Swansea 0-4 at the Liberty Stadium 24 hours earlier.

“Well, I’m no fan of either Man U nor Liverpool and my team had made light work of Swansea the previous day but even if the Gunners were in action at the same time as the Warriors, I would have watched my country in action as they say ‘East, West home is best,” Taedzerwa said.

Despite their unwavering support for the Kalisto Pasuwa’s side, the Warriors fans were left deflated on Thursday night following a 2-0 loss to Senegal in their second match at the Afcon tournament.

The Warriors now need to beat Tunisia tomorrow night in order to qualify for the quarter-finals.

It is a sure bet that a lot of Zimbabweans will be tuning into the match to see if the team can make history and reach the last eight stage of the tournament for the first time. 

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