Warriors coach Norman Mapeza has shifted his focus to preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals to be played in Cameroon next year after Zimbabwe’s hope of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup finals ended yesterday.
Zimbabwe goalkeeper Talbert Shumba’s shocking howler gifted Ghana a 1-0 victory at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey’s rising shot, from a free-kick directly at Shumba, zoomed over the giant goalkeeper’s head and hit the back of the net in the first half.
Speaking to journalists after the match, Mapeza expressed disappointment over the loss and admitted that qualification for the 2022 World Cup was no longer in the Warriors’ hands. He said:
We always get disappointed after losing any match but, like I said when I came in, I knew where the team was.
Of course, I promised the nation that I will try my level best to revive the World Cup campaign but now everything is out of our hands.
What is important at this moment is to continue working hard. I think from today’s game, and the other one we played in Ghana, we had so many positives.
So, we have to keep working hard in the remaining two matches and try to put up a team that will go and play at the AFCON tournament.
He, however, refused to blame Shumba for the loss after the South African-based goalkeeper’s blunder gifted a goal to the West Africans. Said Mapeza:
I was a footballer before. I used to make mistakes as well but my coach never dropped me out of the team.
He needs to be encouraged, so, if I am going to drop him because of that mistake, I would be like Judas Iscariot.
This is football, mistakes are bound to happen, it wasn’t his day, he made that mistake but I am proud of what he did, he never looked down.
The Warriors play South Africa away from home and then host Ethiopia in the final two 2022 World Cup qualifiers.