Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
WARRIORS’ interim coach, Joey Antipas, has come out guns blazing and blamed poor preparations and shambolic travel arrangements that the team went through for the embarrassing loss to lowly-ranked Somalia in a Fifa World Cup preliminary round first leg match in Djibouti on Thursday evening.
Anwar Sidali Shaunda’s late header, which left an otherwise largely untested goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze stranded as it nestled in the far post, made all the difference and sent social media into overdrive as soon as the referee blew for the end of the match after seven additional minutes of injury time.
‘‘History for Somalia! The Ocean Stars have won a #WorldCup qualifying match for the first time in their history (11 played, 3 drawn, 8 lost before today),’’ Fifa said on their Twitter handle.
It’s a fact. The result was indeed a shock to the football world but to most Zimbabweans this outcome was an embarrassment of monumental proportions, never to be repeated now or in future and certainly not on Tuesday at the National Sports Stadium where the second leg will be played. It was the first time Somalia, who made their debut in the Fifa World Cup qualifiers as far as back as 1982, had tasted victory.
Antipas, a shrewd mentor in his own right with two championship medals on the domestic scene, did not mince his words when asked what he thought were the reasons behind this diabolic outcome.
“It was a boozers’ set up,” fumed Antipas.
For a coach known to be careful with his words, this was perhaps too much for the Chicken Inn gaffer as he could not bottle it any longer.
“We lost it in our shoddy preparations where it was more like a boozers’ set up. Players pitching up and playing a game, something that should never be repeated for a senior national team. We did not have a single training session to organise ourselves for an important game of this magnitude. Players were fatigued due to the hectic travelling schedule,” said Antipas, speaking from Djibouti yesterday.
He, however, believes there is a silver lining at the end of the two-legged tie.
“But on the brighter side of life, the second leg is on Tuesday which will give us a bit of time to put in a couple of sessions to rectify where we went wrong,” Antipas said.
Central defender, Peter Muduhwa, who partnered skipper Alec Mudimu said failure to convert the numerous chances that came their way saw the team being severely punished in the dying minutes.
But he said all hope was not lost.
“It was a good game, we unfortunately failed to convert our chances and got punished in the dying minutes. What next? We need to remain focused, work on our weaknesses and get a positive result at home,” Muduhwa said according to Highlanders’ official Twitter account.