Mighty Warriors stun Zambia
By Ellina Mhlanga
Zimbabwe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 1
Zambia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
(Zimbabwe won on the away goals rule after a 2-2 draw on aggregate)
A GOAL by captain Felistas Muzongondi in the first half was all Zimbabwe’s Mighty Warriors needed to progress to the next round of the Olympic Games women’s soccer qualifiers as they beat Zambia yesterday at Rufaro.
Zimbabwe lost 1-2 in the first leg a week ago in Lusaka and they needed at least a 1-0 victory over their neighbours to proceed to the third round of the qualifiers.
And they just did that to win on the away goals rule after the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate. Rudo Neshamba scored the crucial goal in Zambia.
However, yesterday it was Muzongondi, who scored the much-needed goal from a free-kick just outside the box in the 24th minute when Zambia’s goalkeeper, Hazel Nali, handled the ball outside the box as Zimbabwe piled the pressure on the visitors. The Mighty Warriors will now face Côte d’Ivoire in the next round scheduled for July.
The Rosemary Mugadza-coached side could have scored more goals but they were wasteful in front of the goal.
And they have to be thankful that Zambia missed a penalty in the 68th minute.
Shepolopolo were awarded the penalty after Zimbabwe goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai fouled their striker Barbra Banda inside the box but Ireen Lungu failed to convert the spot kick when her effort went wide.
In the 89th minute, Banda came back to haunt Zimbabwe but found Dzingirai up to the task and it was a sweet victory for Zimbabwe, who were booted out of last year’s African Women Championships by Zambia when they lost at home and away in the qualifiers. Mugadza, who turned 46 last Tuesday, was pleased with yesterday’s result and hailed her charges for fighting to the end.
“I am happy that we have managed to go past Zambia and we need to go to our drawing board to at least prepare very well for the second game as we are going to play against Cote d’ Ivoire.
“As you have seen that we only trained for a very short time but we managed to beat a team that has been in camp for the past two months. This shows that we have got talent and the girls are willing to play.
“We hope that we will go and prepare well for our next game late in July,” said Mugadza. Mugadza, however, said they have to work on the strike-force, which is struggling and yesterday they missed a number of chances that could have seen them winning the game by a better margin.
“I think we still need to work with our strike-force because we were getting the chances but they were failing to convert them. However, the league has not started so we need to complement these girls that in this short space of time they have managed to do us proud,” said Mugadza.
Zambia goalkeepers coach Yona Phiri conceded defeat and said they had lost to a good team.
“It was a tough game. We would have finished this game at our home ground but now it was a tough game. We are wishing Zimbabwe the best. They have got a very good team.
“Our players are still young, they are Under-17s and we graduated them into the senior team so we still got time to develop the team.
“She (Nali) conceded a very silly goal but this is football. Football is dynamic we should expect that to happen, so we are out,” said Phiri.
The match was attended by Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga and former Women’s Football chairperson Mavis Gumbo.
Zimbabwe: C. Dzingirai, P. Mujuru, N. Majika, T. Mandaza, S. Makoto, E. Msipa, F. Muzongondi (M. Mafuruse 90 minutes), M. Nyaumwe, E. Chibanda (R. Neshamba 70 minutes), E. Jeke (S. Zulu 85 minutes), M. Chirandu.
Zambia: H. Nali, A. Kibanji, M. Relemu, L. Chisamu, A. Mulenga, M. Wilombe, E. Mukwasa, O. Kaleo (I. Lungu 65 minutes), M. Zulu (M. Limwanya 76 minutes), H. Mubanga, B. Banda. The Herald