By Sports Reporter
ZDRAVKO Logarusic’s reign as Warriors coach got off to an unconvincing start after his makeshift Zimbabwe side laboured to a goalless draw against a wasteful Malawi side in an international friendly match played at the Mpira Stadium in Blantyre on Sunday.
The 54 year-old Croatian received a swift reminder of the sizeable job facing him as his charges could have suffered an embarrassing defeat in his first match in charge, 10 months after his appointment as Warriors coach.
Despite the absence of several Europe-based players, coach Logarusic was able to field a decent starting line-up that included overseas-based players like Marvelous Nakamba and Teenage Hadebe, while Khama Billiat was handed the captain’s armband.
The South Africa-based duo of striker Charlton Mashumba and defender Divine Lunga also added the much needed experience in the side.
Malawi, who are affectionately known as the Flames made five changes from the side that narrowly lost to Zambia, with goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe, Chikoti Chirwa, Peter Cholopi, Chimwemwe Idana and Schumacher Kuwali coming to the fore.
The Zimbabwe Warriors, who had only two training sessions ahead of the friendly match, looked disjointed from the onset as Malawi dominated the early exchanges, creating clear cut chances although they lacked the composure and killer instinct upfront.
The hosts found a couple big chances in the early exchanges, with Idana missing a sitter after guiding a shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy at the far post.
Malawi kept on pressurising the Warriors in an open game and Gabadinho Mhango should have given the hosts the lead just before the break after receiving a pass unmarked in the box but he too curled his shot over the bar.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, did not offer the Flames space to exploit in the last third early in the second stanza, pinning them back in their own half.
Malawi coach Meke Mwase made a double change in the 68th minute, as he brought on midfielder Gerald Phiri Junior in place of Yamikani Chester and Richard Mbulu in place of Idana.
Billiat who was replaced by Ian Nekati was guilty of missing a couple of chances late in the match while Malawi with another big chance but goalkeeper Talbert Shumba made a great reaction save to deny Mician Mhone from inside the box, as the visitors held on for the share of the spoils.
The Warriors will resume their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with back-to-back matches against Algeria next month while Malawi will have a similar schedule against Burkina Faso.