WARRIORS coach, Zdravko Logarusic, feels his men were given a raw deal in their heartbreaking loss to Ethiopia in this 2022 World Cup Group G qualifier at the Bahir Dar Stadium yesterday.
Zimbabwe slipped to the bottom of Group G, after conceding a last-minute goal from the penalty spot, in a match they thought they had done just enough, to bring home a crucial point.
Defender Alec Mudimu was adjudged to have handled, inside the penalty box, by Seychelles referee, Bernard Camille. And, 30-year-old striker, Aschalew Tamene, put away the resultant spot-kick to break the resistance, which had been erected by the Warriors, the entire afternoon.
But, the under-fire Loga felt the decision was too harsh, as he argued Mudimu didn’t handle the ball and, even if he did, the Georgia-based centre-back was outside the 18-yard box.
“It was a difficult game and at the end Ethiopia scored a goal, which they called a goal,’’ he said.
“I couldn’t see exactly what happened but I think Alec Mudimu was outside the box and, secondly, I think the ball hit his shoulder.
‘’And, thirdly, it was very difficult for us to understand, at first he (the referee) said nothing but after five, six seconds he called it a penalty.’’
Yet, despite playing second fiddle to the Ethiopians, the Warriors created decent chances, which they should have taken, before the heart-breaking moment.
Loga was left to rue those missed opportunities, which he feels his strikers should have taken, to change the script of the outcome.
“At the end I think we deserved a minimum of a draw. What is bothering me is that we had our chances.
“We had our chances much earlier, to put the game on our side, then we missed our chances and at the end a very, very crucial decision from the referee killed us.
“But, if you don’t score, sometimes at the front, you get punished at the back.
‘‘Anyway, that is what is there, we have to focus on the next game, since we have only played two games.
‘‘We have two games against Ghana, that means we have to go and pick the maximum points, home and away.’’
He said his men gave it their best and deserved more than they got.
“Anyway, we tried our best and, with some individual mistakes, maybe some wrong refereeing decisions, we lost the game,’’ said Loga.
‘‘But, I think, we didn’t disappoint with the game.
‘‘We disappointed Zimbabweans, sometimes you don’t have to lose but you lose, may God bless us and let us focus on some other games.
“I am also going to encourage my players because they also felt cheated.
‘‘After the game, I faced the referee and asked why we had played only one minute, yet they had indicated five then, after exchanging some words, he then disappeared.”
Like they did, against South Africa, in their opening drab goalless draw last Friday, the Warriors never looked like shifting into second gear.
They allowed Ethiopia to enjoy plenty of the possession.
Their transition was well below par and they struggled to create clear-cut opportunities, with the team registering just two shots, on target.
Zimbabwe now sit on the bottom of Group G, with a single point picked from the opening home match against South Africa, last Friday.
Bafana Bafana top the standings, on four points, after two rounds of qualifiers, while Ghana and Ethiopia have three points each.
Only group winners will progress to the final round of the qualifiers.
Ethiopia: A. Gabremichael, F. Gebremichael, A. Tonjo (A Yalew 75th min), A. Tamene, G.Kabede (A. Yohannes 75th min), M. Mahommed (S. Hamid 75th min), S. Bekele (T. Solomon 30th min), Y. Baye, Y. Endashaw, R. Yesuf, A Ahmad
Zimbabwe: T. Shumba, G. Chimwemwe, O, Bhasera, A. Mudimu, D. Lunga (K. Mahachi 87th min), M. Munetsi, T. Kamusoko, P. Chikwende (I. Wadi 65th min), K. Musona, K. Billiat, T. Dzvukamanja