THE Warriors were so gutted, after their heartbreaking loss at the hands of Senegal’s Lions of Teranga, coach Norman Mapeza had to play the role of psychologist to try and lift his men out of their depression.
After all, despite the pain inflicted by that loss, the Warriors still have business to take care of and, before Monday, the game against Senegal wasn’t one of those they were expecting to pick something from.
Their realistic target was always trying to win against Malawi, the team they will face on Friday and, if possible, battle for a point in their last game against Guinea.
Interestingly, just a victory over Malawi, could be enough for Mapeza and his men to make it to the group stages of the tournament, for the first time in the country’s history.
After all, the tournament also rewards the best four third-placed teams with a place in the Round of 16.
After their heroics against Senegal, expectations among their fans have grown and the supporters have always believed their team is better than the Flames, no matter the circumstances.
In the last two AFCON matches, between the two sides, the Warriors won both games in Blantyre and Harare, in the qualifiers for the 2017 AFCON finals.
Team manager, Wellington Mpandare, revealed the Warriors were left shattered, both physically and emotionally, after their heartbreaking loss to the Lions of Teranga.
“Of course, that shattering defeat drained the players. We can’t run away from the truth,” he said.
“Obviously, as technical members, the duty is also to cheer up the boys and have them back in shape.
“The reason the coach gave them a day off is that it’s a process for them to try and recover.
“What is important is we are in this together as a nation.
“The boys are obviously seeing the messages of encouragement and appreciation they are getting from the fans.
“They are professionals, they engage each other and that support from the fans will also cheer them up.”
He said the important thing now was that the players were back in the groove and ready to try and collect maximum points in their next fixture.
They play Malawi in a must-win encounter tomorrow.
Kick-off is 6pm.
“Morale is now high, they are now focused on the Friday game, which is very important.
“We understand the feeling the fans are having and this has been the same situation in camp but we had to tell the boys to quickly shift focus.
“Now is time to rally behind the boys.”