Warriors Fail To Qualify

Warriors Fail To Qualify
Published: 2016 June 16 05:05:51 (19620 Views)

Zimbabwe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (2) 5

Seychelles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0

ZIMBABWE’S Warriors finally remembered how to score, posting a thumping win over hapless Seychelles at the Sam Nujoma Stadium here last night, but still bowed out of contention for the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup tournament after finishing second in Group A.

Despite completing an unbeaten run in the competition, the Warriors were just not good enough for a quarter-final berth as Swaziland edged them into pole position with seven points while Callisto Pasuwa’s men and Madagascar both have five.

Centre-back Lawrence Mhlanga, with a second half brace including the last touch of the match in the third minute of time added on, led the Warriors’ scoring on the night.

CAPS United left back Ronald Pfumbidzai calmed the Warriors’ nerves when he scored from the penalty spot after Tafadzwa Kutinyu had been upended in the box.

Diminutive winger Marshall Mudehwe, lively on the right flank all night, then made it two when he ghosted in from the blind side to head home a cross from Pfumbidzai. With defenders hogging limelight in terms scoring, Teenage Hadebe also added his name on the score sheet with a headed goal off yet another Pfumbidzai cross.

Pfumbidzai, later voted man-of the-match, was involved in all of Zimbabwe’s five goals, scoring first before setting up the other four. It seemed to be all on cue for the Warriors on a dramatic night of Group A action in Windhoek as Madagascar had appeared to be holding Swaziland to a 0-0 draw.

The Malagasy’s resistance, however, lasted 71 minutes as the tournament’s leading scorer Felix Badenhorst found the Swaziland breakthrough at the Independence stadium.

Once Sihlangu found the target, the Warriors hopes were doused.

Zimbabwe were always on the edge after they made life difficult for themselves when they were held 0-0 by Madagascar in their second match on Monday as they surrendered their destiny into the hands of the other teams in the group.

Yet the Warriors went into battle hoping to win the game by five goals and hoping that there would be a goalless draw in the match between Swaziland and Madagascar. Such a scenario would have meant that the three teams would have same number of points — five — and the group winner would then be decided on goals scored in all group games as Swaziland and Zimbabwe would otherwise have an identical record

Such was the delicate scenario for the Warriors that if Swaziland got a score draw, they would have still advanced as group winners, having scored the most number of goals against Zimbabwe and Madagascar. Sihlangu, however, spared the tournament organisers the calculators for the permutation as their victory over the Malagasy ensured they finished two points ahead. Despite his team’s early exit from the competition, Pasuwa was happy to have noted “an improvement in the conversion rate’’.

“Our problem at this tournament had been converting our chances but I am happy that today we got it right.

“It was always my wish that one day we could convert our chances and I even warned yesterday that when we finally get it right, we could even get 10 goals because the first goal has been hard to come by. But again everything points back to the Madagascar game and it is a valuable lesson for us that in tournament football you need to get it right in your first two games as they determine your fate.

“Now we found ourselves having to play catch up,’’ Pasuwa said.

The Warriors coach was forced to make last ditch change moment before kick-off, with Dynamos defender Elisha Muroiwa having picked up a knee injury during warm. As it turned out, Muroiwa’s replacement Mhlanga led the Warriors scoring with a rare double in national team colours.

Sadly for the 23-year-old Chicken Inn defender there was no qualification to spice up his celebration for his goals as they remained academic.

Zimbabwe will now play in the Plate matches.

- Herald

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