Warriors coach Baltemar Brito says he was impresssed by his team’s performance after the Zimbabwe national football team opened its 2026 Fifa World Cup Group C qualifier with a goalless draw away in Rwanda yesterday.
Zimbabwe marked the Warriors’ return to competitive international football with this match following a two-year Fifa ban.
Brito said under the circumstances, he was pleased as the team hardly trained together with some players arriving the night before the game.
The locally-based players travelled to Rwanda over the weekend, but foreign-based players trickled in until hours before the match.
“My assessment is that the game was very good. We came here and some players had no training session, they arrived last night so we didn’t have too much time to prepare for the game. But even then, we did well and managed to collect one point away and we have a clean sheet, so this is a positive that we take forward. This is a new direction for Zimbabwe and it’s good to collect a point in the first game,” Brito said.
In a game of few chances, the Warriors controlled the first half but could not make full use of the opportunities that they created.
Striker Admiral Muskwe stumbled to the ground when he was slipped through on goal by Marshall Munetsi early in the game. The England-based striker limped off 23 minutes into the game and his replacement Terrence Dzvukamanja could have put Zimbabwe ahead heading into the break, but wasted two chances that came his way.
He was slow to dispatch the ball on both occasions, with Rwanda keeper Fiachre Ntwari clearing from the striker’s feet and then allowing a defender to recover to clear the danger.
Warriors goalkeeper Benard Donovan was reduced to a mere spectator in the largely uneventful half, with Djihad Bizimana’s wayward effort on the 22nd minute, the hosts’ only shot at goal in the first stanza.
To their credit, Rwanda improved in the second half, but didn’t create much early on. Bonheur Mugisha’s free header from a corner went wide before the home side forced three good saves from Donovan.
Zimbabwe were denied two genuine penalties from handballs around the hour mark.
Gerald Takwara (twice) and Prince Dube had free headers which they put wide as Zimbabwe searched for the opener.
Munetsi thought he had found the target on the 70th minute but his effort was ruled out for an offside.
Brito introduced Tino Kadewere for the last 15 minutes, but the striker who arrived just hours before the match, was not given any good chance to work with.
The game opened up late on but chances were still at a premium as the game petered to a drab draw but Brito says he was happy with the point gained.
Next up for Zimbabwe is Nigeria in the second Group C match at the same venue on Sunday. The match kicks off at 3pm.
Rwanda: F Ntwari, O Fitina, E Imanishimwe, M Ange, T Manzi, B Mugisha (O Niyonzima, 46′), S Hakim (P Sibomana, 75′), D Bizimana, B Lague, I Nshuti (K Muhire, 75′), G Mugisha
Zimbabwe: B Donovan, A Mbeba, T Hadebe, G Takwara, D Lunga, M Nakamba, B Banda, M Munetsi, P Dube (T Kadewere, 74′), W Musona (O Chirinda, 67′), A Muskwe (T Dzvukamanja, 23′)