HARARE - Zimbabwe yesterday failed to rise to expected heights but still managed to overcome Tunisia 19-8 and move one step closer to lifting the Africa Cup Group 1 A championship.
Sables coach Cyprian Mandenge duly admitted it was not the prettiest of performances from his side but was still chuffed with the result insisting “there is nothing like an ugly win”.
The match only produced one try a piece for Zimbabwe and Tunisia.
“Tough encounter; Tunisia played well, they played to their strengths and kept their structure,” Mandenge told reporters after the match.
“We didn’t play well. We only played our game plan in the first two minutes or so, but there is no ugly win. I thought it was an open game but only two tries were scored the entire match.”
Mandenge felt an early injury to lock Norman Mukondiwa as well his other forwards later on in the game and that disrupted his game plan.
“A lot of guys got injured early on. With the rules they have imposed on us it didn’t help us because we had one utility forward on the bench.
“Norman (Mukondiwa) got injured and we brought in a utility player and then the other loose forward got injured we had to bring in a hooker. It’s unfortunate we are playing 22 men squad instead of 23,” he said.
Zimbabwe started brightly surging ahead through a penalty off the boot of flyhalf Tichafara Makwanya before Tunisia levelled matters with a penalty of their own converted by fullback Chams eddin Khlifa.
Makwanya would give Zimbabwe some breathing space with another penalty before Chipendu, who had replaced Mukondiwa a few moments earlier dotted over the white wash for Zimbabwe’s only try of the match.
Tangai Nemadire had done well to gather from Zimbabwe’s 22 mietre line before going on a mazy run implanting the up and under but clumsily failed to finish with the Tunisian backline out at sea.
The two sides went to the breather with Zimbabwe leading 13-3 but the restart of the second half did not offer a new dimension to the Sables’ play.
If anything the hosts were failing to use their flair and pace despite the North Africans kicking the ball into the arms of the Sables back line on numerous occasions.
It would, however, be Tunisia who would dominate the early exchanges of the second stanza with prop Mlise Mohamed diving over to score the visitors try.
Tunisia coach Mohammed Sahraoui felt his side gave a good account for themselves, despite the result sealing their relegation from the Africa Cup Group 1A.
“It was a good game although I thought there were times we could have taken control of the game but we let it slip. We are a young side and I believe with this group of players we can challenge for honours,” he said.