Tadious Manyepo in JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
THE Mighty Warriors made a giant leap towards securing a Cosafa Women’s Championship semi-final berth after delivering a vintage show in this Group C victory at Dobsonville Stadium on Monday.
With six points in two matches and two points above second-placed Botswana, the Shadreck Mlauzi charges can finish as the group leaders if they avoid defeat against Botswana in their final pool match Wednesday.
Going into yesterday’s game, the Mighty Warriors had dropped to second on the Group C standings following Botswana’s 3-0 win over Lesotho earlier in the day.
The Zimbabweans responded in the best way possible, getting the goals through captain Rudo Neshamba and her vice, Nobukhosi Ncube, either side of the break.
“This is the competitiveness that we have been talking about all along. We need to continue on this trajectory. I am impressed with how we carried ourselves in this match,” said Mlauzi.
“It was a very difficult game as we expected it to be. We needed to avoid mistakes in all the departments and be compact.
“We were nearer to flawlessness in the initial stages of the game but we rarely troubled their goalkeeper.
“But I am happy we managed to switch on and got these goals. We now need to remain focused as we need to continue being competitive in this tournament.
“This win is very critical in terms of where we want to be as a team”.
Zimbabwe showed they wanted to play right from kick-off taking the game to their opponents with remarkable authority.
While they enjoyed more possession, they were too patient to pounce and by so doing allowed Namibia an early chance to take the lead.
For once, their midfield of Shyline Dambamuromo, Daisy Kaitano and Edline Mutumbami lapsed on the quarter hour mark and lost the ball.
Namibia’s Fiola Vliete sprinted towards goal but was thwarted, in outstanding fashion, by Mighty Warriors goalkeeper and player of the match Cynthia Shonga.
The 23-year-old was, once again, impressive in between the posts with both her hands and feet and the Harare City Queens star deservedly grabbed the MVP award.
The 15th minute scare on their goal probably reminded the Zimbabweans that they needed to apply urgency in their forward forays.
They did just that and were a goal up after 18 minutes, Neshamba slicing home after a good exchange of passes between Dambamuromo and Privilege Mupeti.
From then, it was all Zimbabwe and on any other day, they should have stretched their advantage with Christabel Katona, Vimbai Mharadzi, Neshamba and Mupeti all coming close.
The second half started more or less the same as the first had finished with the Mighty Warriors bossing their opponents.
Neshamba, who had a cold game in the opening fixture against Lesotho last Friday brought her A-Game and impressively bullied the Namibia defence which often resorted to fouling her.
And 12 minutes after the restart, she was hacked down at the edge of the box.
Eswatini referee Letticia Viana rightly awarded a free kick.
Upstepped Ncube, who had a good outing throughout the 90 minutes.
The 30-year-old unleashed a fierce shot, which gave Namibia goalkeeper Melissa Matheus no chance.
Zimbabwe should have added more especially after the introduction of Herentals College midfielder Praynance Zvawanda but, as they did for most of the match, they wasted the chances.
Melissa Matheus, Iina Katuta, Eddelsisingh Naris, Twelikondjele Amukoto, Thomalina Adams, Millicent Hikuam, Vijakura Tjingaete (Lorraine Jossob 83min), Ivon Kooper, Memory Ngonda, Juliana Blou, Fiola Vliete (Anna Shikusho 64min)
Cynthia Shonga, Eunice Chibanda, Purity Mugayi, Vimbai Mharadzi, Nobukhosi Ncube, Daisy Kaitano, Shyline Dambamuromo (Ennet Chemhere 46min), Edline Mutumbami, Christable Katona(Maudy Mafuruse 81min), Privilege Mupeti (Alice Moyo 81min), Rudo Neshamba (Praynance Zvawanda 73min)