SUNDAY Chidzambwa and his coaching crew endured hours of tension on Sunday as they plotted the team’s battle against Congo-Brazzaville at the National Sports Stadium.
Team manager Wellington Mpandare revealed to The Herald yesterday that the build-up to the Congo game had been the toughest for the Warriors technical crew.
“I must say of all the games we played in these qualifiers, this was the toughest in terms of the pressure that it brought on the coach and everyone in the technical department,” said Mpandare.
“It was not easy considering that it was also the first game that we were playing after a change in the ZIFA executive.
“It was also unfortunate that there as a lot of bad talk that also went around ahead of this game with some alleging that it could have already been fixed and others pointing to a plot to sabotage the team and the country.
“So, the build-up to the game was not the best for a game of this magnitude. We were never given an opportunity to train at the match venue, even our efforts to help with improvements on the pitch were resisted.
“Then, there were injuries to key players like Marvellous Nakamba and Knowledge Musona, which brought with it a lot of concern and anxiety as you know Knowledge only passed a late fitness test.
“So, indeed, a lot was going on and the pressure was different from all the games that we had played before.”
Amid all the pressure, and the challenges faced in the run-up to the game including the uncertainty around which kit they would use, Mpandare paid special tribute to the players and ZIFA for “making the job easier”.
“These players have been fantastic and they wanted the game even more than the supporters. They just wanted to give something to the nation.
“ZIFA, on their part, played a key role in ensuring that everything was basically sorted well before the game.
“The agreements on money issues with the players were reached before camp started and during the week of camp there were no meetings related to money and, as a result, all the players were focused on the game.
“We would also like to give special thanks to our benefactor, Prophet (Walter) Magaya for always being there for us and taking care of the team, and also the Young Warriors, at the Yadah Hotel.
“Coincidentally, the only time that we did not camp at the hotel we lost away to Liberia.”
The Warriors manager also saluted the fans who packed the giant stadium to rally behind the team.
“We must say thank you to the fans. They never booed the team and their amazing support helped carry the day for us.
“Of course, in the second half, it was a bit difficult for us and the pathetic state of the pitch did not help our cause and you saw players like Darikwa, Khama and Munetsi tried to run with the ball but always found it hard.
“It is unfortunate and sad that we lost our supporter who died before the game and, considering that that it was her first time to come, she had shown her love for the team and may her soul rest in eternal peace,” Mpandare said.
Source : The Herald