Zimbabwe Warriors beat the Zebras of Botswana on Wednesday in an international friendly match at Rufaro Stadium giving new coach Klause Dieter Pagels a perfect start in his new job with a narrow 2-1 victory in preparations for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Goals from Khama Billiart and stand-in captain Denver Mukamba were enough to send the sizeable crowd of about 5,000 into a frenzy.
Most fans already are looking forward to better days with Pagels in charge, a role he was given after the Warriors’ failure to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The win will also go a long way in helping Zimbabwe climb up the ladder on the FIFA Coca Cola rankings. Points accrued in this friendly match will be considered for world rankings.
Zimbabwe are currently placed 101 in the world while Botswana are in the 124th spot but there could be a change when the rankings are updated soon after the Africa Cup of Nations finals in the wake of the Warriors win.
Zimbabwe had started off badly giving the Zebras a 4th lead through Lemponye but when the Warriors abandoned the static 4:4:2 formation for a dynamic 3:5:2 style - with the wing backs Ocean Mushure and Hardlife Zvirekwi pushing forward - the pendulum began to swing in favor of the Warriors.
What was heartening for Zimbabwe was also the good show of debutants Nicholas Guyo, Silas Songani, Mathew Rusike, and Ronald Chitiyo while Mushure gave a commanding show in defense.
This is Zimbabwe’s 9th win over Botswana in 13 matches. Two of the games were draws while the Zebras won the remaining two.
This is also one of the few matches in which Zimbabwe has managed to bring together both its local and foreign-based players in an international friendly match.
This is the Warriors first preparatory match in the run-up to the World Cup qualifier against group leaders Egypt on March 23.