Caretaker coach Rahman Gumbo’s Warriors gave Burundi’s Swallows probably their biggest win in history after the Warriors were Wednesday brought down to earth 2-1 at the Prince Louis Stadium in Bujumbura. Although Burundi’s highest winning margin remains the 6-2 win over Rwanda, Rwanda are classified amongst the weakest football nations in Africa in the same rank as Mauritius, Swaziland and Lesotho and are not anywhere near the Warriors of Zimbabwe.
Although the Warriors can still qualify for the league stages of the tournament with a win in the return leg in Harare in June, Burundi’s 2-1 win will go down as one of the biggest upsets so far in the tournament as the Swallows were not in any way expected to come out with even a draw.
Their history is littered with such heavy defeats as 5-0 against Uganda, 4-1 against Tanzania, 6-1 to Ivory Coast and 5-0 to Cameroon hence the reason for the
celebrations that took centre stage in the country following their unexpected win over their much fancied Zimbabwean opponents.
Earlier Wednesday, word had spread throughout the country that the Warriors had won the match 2-0 prompting celebrations in Zimbabwe but the happiness was cut short when the truth was revealed that the Warriors had succumbed to an 89th minute goal by former Kaiser Chiefs defender and Swallows captain,Valery Nahayo.
The home team had earlier taken the lead in the 48th minute through substitute Rodi Mavigu which was cancelled in the 58th minute by Knowledge Musona.
That clearly shows the Warriors too much reliance on Musona as the striker has scored most of the goals the team can boast off, leaving questions as to what would happen should the German based striker be not available for the Warriors as nearly happened in Wednesday’s match.
While all sorts of theories will be drummed up as to the reasons why the Warriors were felled in Bujumbura, the truth remains that Rahman Gumbo that is if he is allowed to continue has a lot of work to do to return the Warriors to the good old days when the team was under the guidance of such coaches as Sunday Chidzambwa and Charles Mhlauri.
The defeat by little Burundi, though narrow, and away from home, speaks volumes of the amount of work that needs to be done between now and the return leg in June, and thereafter in the league stages should the Warriors qualify.
It would also be folly to conclude the Warriors disastrous visit to Bujumbura without mentioning that the Zimbabwe Football Association also need to improve on their organisation and travel arrangements as Cyprus based Noel Kaseke could not make it for the game while Musona who arrived on the match day encountered visa problems which could have been sorted out in time had Zifa been more serious.
Despite the win over the Warriors, Burundi’s Algerian coach Adel Amrouche resigned soon after the game citing frustration and will not be in charge in the return leg in Harare.