Goalkeeper George Chigova believes the favourites tag weighed heavily on the Warriors in their Cosafa Cup quarter-final win over Botswana.
Zimbabwe needed penalties to dispatch the Zebras 3-1 after the match had ended 1-1 in regulation time.
“There is always pressure playing the first match of the tournament especially when all the attention is on you as the holders,” said Chigova.
“Botswana had played other matches, and it was easier for them, but for us, it was a slow start.”
The Polokwane goalkeeper made three saves in the penalties to atone for a soft goal conceded in the second half. Jameson Mukombwe, Khama Billiat and Abbas Amidu converted for Zimbabwe.
The Warriors now play against Lesotho in the semifinals on Wednesday as they seek to win the Cosafa Cup for the sixth time, with Zambia and South Africa who were eliminated on Sunday, sitting on four titles.