The Sunday Mail
Tadious Manyepo in BAFFOUSAM, Cameroon
THIS might probably be the worst run ever by the Warriors.
Debate on whether the current crop of players is the most abysmal we ever had despite qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) three consecutive times is likely to rage on for months to come.
Different coaches, some of them highly rated, including the current mentor Norman Mapeza, have taken turns to manage the side but with little success.
Two coaches — Zdravko Logarusic and Norman Mapeza — have been in charge of the Warriors last 21 games in which they have won only once.
Croatian gaffer Logarusic saw off that 1-0 win over Botswana in March last year in an AFCON qualifier.
It, however, has been downhill since then.
The silence in the Warriors dressing in the aftermath of their early exit from the tournament on Friday pretty much summed up the mood in both Cameroon and Zimbabwe.
It told the tale of how hope can quickly turn to sorrow.
Even after taking the lead against the Malawi, somehow they crumbled like a deck of cards in a horror showing in the second half.
As was the case in 2004 when they debuted at the AFCON in Tunisia, the Warriors will now use their final group game against Guinea in Yaoundé to try and salvage some lost pride.
One would also feel for Mapeza, who worked tirelessly to put together the team since December last year.
The authorities were also very supportive.
But, after getting the much-needed support from the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), who went out of their way to support them financially, the national team conspired to once again disappoint the nation on Friday evening.
After coming to terms with the reality of an early exit from the competition, Mapeza has decided to quickly forget the defeat to Malawi and focus on the final group game against Guinea, as he seeks a consolation win in the competition.
The Warriors left Bafoussam yesterday, where they had been based for the past week, for Yaounde to play Guinea before heading back home.
“I am disappointed, of course; very disappointed that we have exited the tournament.
“It was a very painful loss to Malawi.
“But, look, we have a game against Guinea where we will fight for our pride.
“We will try our best against Guinea.
“We have to believe in ourselves against Guinea. We should win that match.
“We expected to win against Malawi, especially given how we had played against Senegal.
“We should try our best to win against Guinea (on Tuesday).”
Mapeza, who was a crowd favourite after taking over from Logarusic, has now gone for six matches without a win and murmurs of discontent are also beginning to grow louder.
The FC Platinum coach could make wholesale changes to his team and give others who didn’t play in the first two games a chance.
But apart from the discipline in the camp and the tremendous support from the SRC in the short period the sport regulatory body worked with the ZIFA secretariat, it has been a largely forgettable tournament.
It was the same story in Egypt in 2019, where the Warriors best result was a 1-1 draw with Uganda.