Tadious Manyepo in BUTARE, Rwanda
ZIMBABWE coach, Baltemar Brito, saluted his troops for grinding their way to a point amid emotions triggered by sad news that their long-serving ‘keeper, George Chigova, died just hours before this World Cup qualifier.
It was Brito’s first match in charge of the Warriors and the first time he has guided a team in a World Cup qualifier.
“I am happy with the overall performance of my team,” he said after the match.
“We are coming from a very difficult period, a two-year suspension and to come here and get a point against a team that has been playing all along (is good).
“It was a very difficult game, you all saw how it unfolded.
“All my players did very well and on another day we might have won the match.
“But, picking a point away from home in our first international game in two years, really is not bad.
“We have somewhere to start from given the way we played this game.”
There was an element of positivity in the way the Warriors performed on their official return to international football but they could only pick a point at the Huye Stadium yesterday.
Brito named a suspect first eleven team, which showed some nerves in the opening moments but once they settled, game, they were solid.
There was a good number of Zimbabweans who came to cheer the team and the players responded commendably well although they had received the sad news of the passing on of colleague Chigova just before kick-off.
They could have even won this match had they applied themselves well, especially in the attacking third.
Zimbabwe will “host” Nigeria in their second qualifying match at the same venue on Sunday.
The first big chance fell to Zimbabwe.
Goalkeeper Donovan Bernard, who had an outstanding afternoon, hit a long ball with Admiral Muskwe the beneficiary but the dreadlocked forward was hesitant to take responsibility allowing the Rwandan defence to clear their lines.
He was injured in the process and had to be replaced by Terrence Dzvukamanja with just 22 minutes played.
Donovan Bernard, Andrew Mbeba, Gerald Takwara, Teenage Hadebe, Divine Lunga, Marvelous Nakamba, Brian Banda, Marshall Munetsi, Walter Musona (Obriel Chirinda 67th min), Admiral Muskwe (Terrence Dzvukamanja 23rd min), Prince Dube (Tino Kadewere 74th min)