By Ellina Mhlanga
Young Warriors coach Tonderai Ndiraya praised the battling qualities of his players as Zimbabwe left it until late to see off the challenge of Mozambique at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Ndiraya’s men advanced to the last round of the Under-23 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Two late goals by substitutes Obriel Chirinda and Delic Murimba ensured it was the Young Warriors who kept alive their dreams of a place at the eight-team Nations Cup in Egypt in November.
Chirinda, who plays for Chicken Inn, struck in the 87th minute, five minutes after replacing Wilfred Muvirimi.
Murimba, the star of the show for the Under-20 side at the COSAFA tournament in Zambia in December last year, had earlier been introduced for skipper Prince Dube and scored the second goal.
Ndiraya reserved some special mention for his foreign-based players, including Spain-based goalkeeper Martin Mapisa and German-based star midfielder Seth Patrick for praise.
Patrick was the best player for the Warriors with a performance that promised a lot for him in international football.
“I want to admit that we didn’t have it easy today, it was a very difficult match for us, very difficult match in Maputo, so we knew these guys were very strong, good team, and we had a plan,’’ said Ndiraya.
“I think they controlled first half, we had to let them do that, I thought our boys struggled with basics in the first half.
“But I thought we came back second half a little bit changed, especially after the introduction of the three substitutes, Anelka Chivandire, Obriel Chirinda and Delic Murimba. So we started controlling the match.
“If you are not fit then it’s difficult for you to apply basic things. That’s the reason why I have said it was difficult for us because our league here is not active.’’
Mozambique had their moments and could have gone into the break leading but they failed to utilise their opportunities.
Their coach Victor Matine said although they had the upper hand in the first half, it was a different scenario in the second stanza.
“We started the game very well, first half we dominated the game. We created a lot of chances to score but we didn’t, this situation happened in Mozambique when we played against them, we dominated the game but we didn’t score.’’
Zimbabwe: M. Mapisa, P. Makaha, S. Nyahwa, S. Patrick, T. Tavengwa, T. Chisi, M. Ndlovu, L. Mavunga, M. Zata (A. Chivandire 63rd min), W. Muvirimi (O. Chirinda 84th min), P. Dube (D. Murimba 75th min).
Mozambique: V. Guambe, D. Muze, C. Mathe, D. Macandza, K. Cumbane, N. Ernesto, B. Langa, H. Capena (K. Cisse 73rd min), F. Simbine, V. Mario, S. Salimo (A. Alifa 82nd min). The Herald