By Sports Reporter
WARRIORS stand-in coach Rahman Gumbo has expressed his disappointment after the Zimbabwe were knocked out of the 2019 COSAFA Cup following a penalty shootout defeat against neighbours Zambia in the semi-finals at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban Wednesday evening.
The Warriors, who were eyeing a third successive COSAFA Cup crown, had their dominance of the regional tournament finally brought to an end by a determined Zambian side who held their nerve in the decisive penalty shootout to win 4-2 after the match had ended goalless in regulation time.
In a move meant to ensure that all players in the squad get regular game time ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt, Zimbabwe made eight changes to the team that beat Comoros in the quarterfinals.
From the team that played against the Indian Ocean Islanders, only Tanzania-based midfielder Thabani Kamusoko and the defensive duo of Tendayi Darikwa and Alec Mudimu kept their places in the starting line-up.
The Warriors, however, failed to find the target in regulation time with the man of the match, Elvis Chipezeze saving a penalty in the first half in his debut for the Warriors.
Gumbo, who was standing in as head coach in the absence of Sunday Chidzambwa, who was attending his fathers’ burial, said he was disappointed that they could not successfully defend their title.
“We brought our full strength squad here because we had two objectives, one to retain the cup and the other to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations,” said Gumbo.
“In this game, we made a lot of changes because we wanted to try new combinations as we have focus also on the Africa Cup of Nations. It’s sad that we failed to win this one when we really wanted to and congratulations to Zambia.
“Matches between Zimbabwe and Zambia have never been easy, we dominated them in the past and they really wanted revenge.”
The Warriors, who were parading some of their stars such as skipper Knowledge Musona, dominated possession but created very few clear-cut opportunities against a disciplined Zambian side which was content with soaking up the pressure and waiting to catch their opponents on counter attacks.
Meanwhile, after the defeat in the COSAFA Cup semi-finals, the Warriors left South Africa for Nigeria on Thursday ahead of their international friendly match against the Super Eagles in Asaba on Saturday.
The Warriors are expected to link up with China-based forward Nyasha Mushekwi before Saturday’s encounter which is the Warriors’ last preparatory game before they set off to Cairo for their 2019 AFCON finals campaign.