Kudos to you Brito for a job well done
Innocent Kurira, [email protected]
WARRIORS coach Baltemar Brito went through his first test in Zimbabwe’s top football job and the result was not failure. While Brito should never be immune to criticism, it is rather unfair to make a final verdict on his capabilities with only two games of which he lost none.
Coaching a side that had not played football in 18 months and never had any friendly game before the World Cup qualifiers, Brito and his charges gave a decent account of themselves.
Zimbabwe played to a goalless draw against Rwanda before a one-all stalemate against Nigeria in a home game played away from home in Rwanda.
The Warriors are among the 17 countries that do not have approved homegrounds and have to find an alternative venue beyond borders during the 2026 Fifa World Cup Africa qualifiers.
The two matches marked the Warriors return to international football after a lengthy hiatus. A moment to celebrate for the Zimbabwean football fraternity.
Football analyst Sakheleni Nxumalo says credit must be given to the coach for the good shift in the two games.
“I think credit should be given to coach Baltemar Brito for being able to get the Warriors to play the way he wanted them to play considering the limited time he has had to work with the team. The way the team was set up in both matches made it difficult for their opponents to break them down.
“I believe that was the result of a deliberate tactical effort which worked wonders for the Warriors and I would like to think that a good foundation has been laid and the team can only get better when the qualifiers resume next year. I believe successful coaches have a method to their madness and from the way the team played in Rwanda I believe the players have quickly bought into the coach’s philosophy,” said Nxumalo.
He believes that with greater planning, the Warriors will be on the upswing.
“So with ample preparation time and utilisation of international breaks, I foresee Zimbabwe rising like a phoenix and becoming a force to reckon with in international football. That Rwanda team is quite good, with good movement on and off the ball by their midfield and pacey forwards but because we were disciplined and able to maintain our shape they could not breach us. We were able to frustrate a talent-laden Super Eagles squad and with a bit of precision in front of goal, could have collected maximum points in both matches.”
Nxumalo called on the nation to fully rally behind the national team.
“So what we should do as a nation is to rally behind the Warriors and support the team even when our favourite players are not selected because some of the criticism that has been aimed at Brito and some players is unjustified,” said Nxumalo.
Veteran commentator Muzi Hadebe also drew positives from the Warriors performance.
“I think it’s a fair performance from the Warriors. Obviously, playing away from Zimbabwe and coming up with two points is a good thing. We are looking at a team that had not trained together and for the technical team to try and come up with combinations, I think they did a good job. There are a lot of improvements needed in the team.
“I think we saw the coaches field their teams in terms of what they are seeing in them. Perhaps evident by that from the starting line-up against Rwanda they made three changes, Jordan Zemura came in for Divine Lunga, Andrew Rinomhota came in for Admiral Muskwe and Tino Kadewere for Brian Banda which shows they are getting a feel of how each player fares and what they contribute to the team.”
Hadebe hopes by the time the next round of qualifiers are played, Zimbabwe will have the National Sports Stadium (NSS) ready to host international games.
“In the Nigeria game, there were a couple of chances that they could have utilised. It becomes important for the team to utilise the half chance that comes their way. Had they been more clinical they could have won the game against Nigeria. We could be talking of four. One hopes the team will now get more time to train together. If you look at the group right now, unless Nigeria improves in the later stages of the campaign it’s quite an open group that can go anywhere. I hope since the next match is a bit far, hopefully something will be done at the National Sports Stadium and we won’t have to play our home games away from home,” said Hadebe.
Chicken Inn coach, Prince Matore said: “Those are good results. They accounted well for themselves. The two draws are encouraging. It is my hope the next games will have better preparations in terms of friendlies and we will have a better side.”
Zimbabwe’s next game is at home to Lesotho in March next year. The team that finishes top of the group will automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup finals.
P W D L F A GD P
Rwanda 2 1 1 0 2 0 +2 4
S Africa 2 1 0 1 2 3 -1 3
Nigeria 2 0 2 0 2 2 0 2
Lesotho 2 0 2 0 1 1 0 2
Zimbabwe 0 2 0 1 1 0 2
Benin 2 0 1 1 1 2 -1 1