Zimbabwean coach Norman Mapeza gave credit to his players after their 1-0 defeat to Senegal
Zimbabwe may have suffered defeat at the death in their opening Africa Cup of Nations match against Senegal, but head coach Norman Mapeza has reserved special praise for his players following a gallant effort against one of the tournament favourites.
Zimbabwe were not overwhelmed by the stature of their opponents on Monday, 10 January, holding their own for a big part of the game before giving away a penalty in the final minutes of the game, which was calmly slotted home by Senegalese talisman Sadio Mane.
The Warriors were moments away from collecting a point, but they ended the game with nothing and now have to focus on their next opponents, Malawi. They meet their southern African rivals on Friday, 14 January.
“Credit goes to my boys. I think we played very well. Nobody gave us a chance against a quality team like Senegal. If you look at the names in their squad, most of their guys are playing for top European clubs,” Mapeza was quoted as saying on the Zimbabwean Football Association’s social media platforms.
“I think we had some moments where we controlled the game. Luck wasn’t on our side. Credit to my boys. I think they worked their socks off. Now we focus on our next game against Malawi. We are just going to work on our conversion rate. I think we did a lot in the final third where we had some good opportunities. We also had some opportunities on set pieces.
“I am proud of my boys. We worked so hard. Our minds are now on the game against Malawi where I think we need to give our all so that we can get maximum points because I think if we can manage to get four points, we will get to the round of 16.”