Eddie Chikamhi Harare Bureau
Zimbabwe (2) 2 – 0 Uganda
UGANDA coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic yesterday said Zimbabwe have a great chance to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations after a largely second string Warriors outfit beat his side in an international friendly at Rufaro.
Zimbabwe engaged the East Africans as part of their preparations for the penultimate Group L qualifier against Malawi scheduled for the National Sports Stadium this Sunday.
The Warriors lead their group with eight points, three clear of rivals Swaziland and Guinea who also clash this weekend in Mbabane.
Although Callisto Pasuwa had rested most of his regular foreign-based players, the Warriors still scored twice from identical set-pieces through defender Teenage Hadebe.
The Chicken Inn man gave Zimbabwe the morale-boosting win they needed when he rose above everyone else at the back post to bury two corner kicks taken by Kuda Mahachi in the first half.
The Warriors were leading 1-0 as early as the fifth minute and by the 31st minute Hadebe had doubled the scoreline after the visitors again failed to trace him in the crowded penalty box.
Micho, a good friend of Pasuwa in the coaching circles, was still impressed by the quality and depth in the Zimbabwe squad and wished them success in their quest to break a 10-year jinx.
“Zimbabwe team is a group of great individuals that are coached by my very good friend Callisto Pasuwa. It’s a great team that deservedly has a great chance to go to the Africa Cup of Nations.
“I wish our next challenge and our next match comes at the Africa Cup of Nations. All the best to Zimbabwe,” said Micho.
Pasuwa had to rest most of his foreign-based regulars to avoid injuries because of the bad state of the turf at Rufaro.
His fears were confirmed when Warriors debutant Andre Gwaze, who plays in Poland, had to be pulled out at the break after the 27-year-old midfielder complained of blisters.
Only four foreign-based players made the starting line-up among them another debutant Charlton Mashumba who has made his name at Jomo Cosmos in South Africa, Bidvest Wits forward Evans Rusike and Kuda Mahachi.
Man-of-the-moment Khama Billiat and Onismor Bhasera made second half appearances.
Hadebe was on point with his header five minutes into the game, Rusike then did well to beat his markers on the 14th minute but could not keep his shot down.
Mahachi’s freekick from the right flank was tipped over the crossbar by Uganda goalkeeper Robert Ondongkara at the half hour mark.
“The guys played very well but we have some areas where we could see that we were making some mistakes. These are areas we need to go and rectify when we return to our training starting tomorrow (today) until Friday,” said Pasuwa.
Pasuwa said the focus is now on Malawi.
The coach believes he is now spoilt for choice as the Warriors welcomed at the stadium South Africa-based players who included Billiat and Tendai Ndoro who had missed the first day of training.
Zimbabwe are still expecting Sweden-based Matthew Rusike to join the camp.
Uganda featured a strong team which included big Weder Bremen forward Lorenzen Melvyn who was a thorn in the flesh of the defenders in the first 45 minutes that he played.
They also had Emmanuel Okwi who plays for Sondy0erske in Denmark, Iceland-based Tonny Mawejje and William Kizito Luwagga who plays in Portugal.
The Ugandans will camp in Zimbabwe until Friday as they prepare for an important qualifier away to Botswana this weekend in Group D where they are tied on seven points with leaders Burkina Faso.
“I’m very happy to come here in this great country to play with our team. It has been a great match. We didn’t keep concentration in two situations of the corner kick,” said Micho.
“In my 24 years of coaching it has never happened to me to concede a goal in similar fashion, copy-paste.
“However, out of three targets we have succeeded in two. We wanted to check the shape and form of our players, we succeeded. We wanted to avoid injuries, we succeeded.
“We wanted results and we didn’t succeed.
“So we are having three days to polish, to improve some of the things so that in Saturday’s game against Botswana we are much better and much more effective not to concede and to score of course,” said Micho.
T. Mukuruva (D. Bernard, 78th min), B. Moyo, B. Kangwa (O. Bhasera, 72nd min), E. Muroiwa, T. Hadebe, D. Phiri, A. Gwaze (O. Tarumbwa, 46th min), M. Mudehwe, K. Mahachi (K. Billiat, 72nd min), C. Mashumba (R. Kutinyu, 46th min), E. Rusike (E. Madhananga, 68th min)
Robert Ondongkara, Denis Iguma, Godfrey Walusimbi, Isaac Isinde (J. Ochaya, 46th min), Murushid Juuko, Hassan Waswa, Luwaga Kizito (E. Lubega, 62nd min), Yassar Mugerwa (K. Awucho, 46th min), Geoffrey Massa (D. Kasirye, 62nd min), Lorenzen Melvyn (T. Mawejje, 46th min), Emmanuel Okwi (E. Sekisambu, 62nd min)