By Lawrence Trusida
THE Warriors suffered an agonising one-nil defeat to Senegal after an impressive performance in their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations opener in Bafoussam, Cameroon this afternoon.
It was a case of so near yet so far.
After holding Africa’s highest-ranked country for the entire 90 minutes, all the hard work was undone in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Kelvin Madzongwe was adjudged to have handled as he turned his back on a goal-bound effort by substitute Pape Gueye.
Liverpool star forward Sadio Mane made no mistake from the resulted spot-kick sending Petros Mhari the wrong way to condemn the Warriors to a heartbreaking defeat.
It was a harsh ending to a match in which Zimbabwe made Senegal, one of the tournament favourites, look distinctly ordinary with the brave show deserving at least a draw.
Going into the match the odds were heavily stacked against the Warriors and Senegal started the encounter on the front foot before the Warriors wrestled back control of the game.
Zimbabwe looked composed and only allowed Senegal two shots on target in the first half which were easily dealt with by the impressive Petros Mhari in goals for the Warriors.
Captain Knowledge Musona had the Warriors only shot on target in the first half with his 39th-minute free-kick which was directed straight at the Senegalese goalkeeper.
Zimbabwe grew in confidence in the second half and Ishmael Wadi was a menace on the right side of the attack but the Warriors could not find the killer instinct.
Zimbabwe could have stolen it at the death when a ferocious Musona free-kick hit a Senegalese player before ricocheting to the goalkeeper.
However, football is about results and in the end, the Teranga Lions somehow found a way to collect maximum points in a match they least deserved.
The Warriors will face regional rivals Malawi in their next match looking for nothing short of victory to stay in contention of a place in the next round.