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IT just keeps getting worse for Zimbabwe football.

Young Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa conceded they reaped what they sowed with their chaotic preparations when they got their Africa Under-23 Youth Championships and Olympic Games dream to a poor start at Rufaro yesterday.

The national Olympic side failed to get the lead they wanted as they were held at home by lightweights Swaziland.

The top three teams in the finals in Senegal this December will automatically grab the tickets to next year’s Olympic Games in Brazil.

It now appears a long way to go for Pasuwa’s men as they now need to climb mountains in the return leg set for next week in Swaziland.

Despite the subdued show, Pasuwa was still optimistic his charges could still turn the tables in Swaziland.

Pasuwa indicated he will need to work harder with his team, especially in attack, as they did not create enough chances yesterday after starting with a lone striker Thomas Chideu.

Swaziland, to their credit, were unflinching in defence and appeared more organised as they easily thwarted the hosts.

“We were not creative enough in the attacking third hence we have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan to unlock them when we go there for the second leg,” said Pasuwa. “Remember this is just like playing 45 minutes.

“So, we will have to play them the other half when we go there. If they can come here and get a draw, why can’t Zimbabwe go there as well and get a win?”

The Young Warriors went into the game with their tails up following the inspiring win over Cameroon last month to book their place at this year’s Africa Games.

And yesterday they had a sizeable crowd to cheer them on.

But, apart from the brawny Tsholotsho Pirates linkman John Takwara and Triangle’s lively winger Malvin Gaki, who showed flashes of brilliance, there was nothing much about their performance.

The Young Warriors lacked urgency going forward.

Twice Carlos Rusere and Nqobizitha Masuku blazed their efforts over the bar before the supporters started whistling in disapproval of the team’s lackadaisical approach 30 minutes into the game.

Then Takwara and Edwin Madhananga tried long range efforts which were easily dealt with by the visitors’ goalkeeper Phumlani Ngobese.

Chideu could have done better in the 63rd minute when he shot straight at the ‘keeper following a rare defensive error by the Swazis.

Pasuwa then made a double substitution in the 67th minute, introducing Emmanuel Mandiranga and Mgcini Sibanda, to breathe life into his team but Swaziland remained resolute.

Zimbabwe became desperate and they forced three straight corner kicks with five minutes remaining but they could not get anything out of it.

Munyaradzi Diro Nyenye could have stolen the win with a stoppage time grounder which the goalkeeper did well to stop and keep a clean sheet ahead of the second leg.

Pasuwa said their chaotic preparations came back to haunt them.

Unlike the hosts, Swaziland had been holding training camps for close to two months.

The Young Warriors had a few days to train last week and they have a difficult build-up after Dynamos and Chicken Inn withdrew four players from the camp, to leave the side severely depleted.

“You train the way you play. We have been training since Monday and then on Thursday some of the players are taken away by their clubs. Obviously, it affects us in terms of our play.

“It will be a problem for these guys to have cohesion. We had to take some of the guys who had gone to COSAFA to add numbers,” said Pasuwa.

The visitors were satisfied with the draw ahead of the return match next week.

“It’s a good result for us because we knew exactly what to expect. They really pushed us from left, right centre but we managed to keep it alive,” said coach Caleb Ngwenya.

Zimbabwe

D. Bernard, M. Diro, E. Madhananga, T. Hadebe, L. Chakoroma, J. Takwara, N. Masuku (M. Sibanda, 46th min), C. Rusere (T. Kadewere, 67th min), M. Gaki, W. Mtasa, T. Chideu (E. Mandiranga, 67th min)

Swaziland

P. Ngobese, S. Dlamini, N. Ndaba, S. Dlamini, N. Gina, S. Dlamini, M. Nkambuke, K. Mkhontfo, M. Mkhontfo, L. Tsabedze (F. Tsabedze, 56th min)

Zim Under-23 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0

Swaziland Under-23 . . . . . . . . . . . . 0

Source : The Herald

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