Libreville - Zimbabwe captain Willard Katsande has expressed disappointment and anger at their overall showing at the Africa Cup of Nations currently under way in four provinces of Gabon, a tiny oil-rich western African country.
Katsande conceded that their performance was “not good at all”. They opened the competition with a 2-2 draw against Algeria, a match that they were supposed to win but in which they were let down by poor finishing and a lack of solid defending.
On Thursday, they lost 2-0 to a venomous Senegal side where they were hit with two quick goals in the opening 20 minutes to throw their quarterfinal qualification hopes into disarray.
They will play Tunisia at 21:00 on Monday to close Group B fixtures while table toppers – with six points (after two wins), Senegal – will play Algeria at the same time.
Explains the Kaizer Chiefs star: “Our biggest mistake was still the same. I agree that the performance was not good at all. We need to learn to defend better and avoid conceding early goals at critical phases of the game.”
He admitted that it was “very critical when you are playing in tournaments such as the Africa Cup of Nations to defend well.
“You need to guard your goals with jealousy,” added the 31-year-old Mutoko-born midfielder, who has been linked with a move to SuperSport United.
“In the past two games [Algeria and Senegal], if you could recall, you will realise that we conceded the first goal in under 15 minutes.”
Against Algeria they allowed Riyad Mahrez’s opening goal (of the two) in the 12th minute, while against Senegal Sadio Mané hit them in the first nine minutes.
“This is not good enough in terms of playing in such tournaments,” said Katsande, as he gears up for the battle of their lives tomorrow.
“I think we are going to work on defending properly and try to get to at least 45, 50 or even 60 minutes without conceding. With the kind of players
in our team and the quality we have, I think we are going to win matches in the future, especially the last group match against Tunisia.”
He added that the lessons that they took from the two matches were: “When you play against top professional teams, players that come from the big leagues, you need to concentrate, be focused in the game every minute with or without the ball. It’s very key, especially against such a tactical team like Senegal.”
He said they would use their experience too, but “unfortunately we’ve learnt in a bad way”.