By Innocent Kurira
Zimbabwe 1-1 Zambia
Rutendo Makore was the heroine of the day when she equalised for the Mighty Warriors five minutes into the second half against Zambia in a Cosafa Women’s Championship match played at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
Zimbabwe had to come from behind to earn a point against rivals Zambia who shot into the lead through a 25th minute goal by Barbra Banda who outpaced a rather slow Mighty Warriors’ defensive pair of Nobuhle Majika to fire past Mighty Warriors goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai.
The halftime pep talk by Mighty Warriors coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda seemed to have lifted the home team’s players’ spirits as they searched for an equaliser and it was not a surprise when Makore, scorer of the four goals in their 4-0 win against Madagascar, found the back of the net.
The resultant goal came after a beautiful build-up started by player of the match Sheila Makoto who sent a cross into the box from the left, and Marjory Nyahumwe flicked the ball into the path of Makore who had the easiest task of tapping the ball into the net.
The goal seemed to have been the antidote that Zimbabwe needed as they came out of their shell and pressed Zambia in search of a winner.
Just like they did in the first half when they missed a couple of scoring opportunities, Zimbabwe were wasteful in the last stanza.
Players guilty of squandering scoring opportunities included Makoto who sent her shot to the stands from a freekick in the fifth minute.
Makore failed to connect a well taken Makoto freekick in the 20th minute and Zambia responded by punishing the hosts through Banda in the 25th minute.
The Mighty Warriors were lucky to go into the break trailing by a goal as Rhonda Chileshe’s header crashed against the upright.
Mighty Warriors head coach, Sibanda was content with the point.
“We expected this. It was a very physical game and l think my players managed to contain the Zambian players. Some of the players received knocks from the game but I think this was a fair game and the result was fair,” said Sibanda.
Sibanda also denied that the team had an over reliance on striker Makore arguing she is a senior player and the youngsters in the team look up to her.
The goal by Makore was her fifth in the tournament and is the only player to have scored for Zimbabwe in the competition.
Zambian coach Yona Phiri was also content with the draw.
“Zimbabwe have an excellent team and we managed to hold our own against them. Our players were very physical but that was not our game plan. We just wanted to win but then we drew. Now we shift focus to our next game,” Phiri said.
Zimbabwe face Malawi tomorrow at Luveve Stadium while Zambia play against Madagascar on the same day at Barbourfields.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are tied on four points and the winner of the group will progress to the next stage with the team that will finish second keeping faith to earn a ticket to the semi-finals as the best runner-up.
Zimbabwe: Chido Dzingirai, Lynett Mutokuto , Nobuhle Majika, Talent Mandaza, Nobukhosi Ncube, Sheila Makoto, Majory Nyahumwe, Eunice Chibanda, Daisy Kaitano ( Rufaro Machingura 79’ ), Rutendo Makore, Berita Kabwe ( Priviledge Mupeti 82’).
Zambia: Hazel Nali, Grace Zulu, Anita Mulenga, Grace Chanda (Ireen Lungu 66’),Mary Wilombe,Misozi Zulu, Rhonda Chileshe, Noria Sosala (Rachel Nachula 66’),Barbra Banda, Annie Kibanji, Lweendo Chisamu. The Chronicle