Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
Zimbabwe 0-0 South Africa
(South Africa win 5-0 on aggregate)
THE Young Warriors went to Barbourfields Stadium yesterday needing nothing short of a miracle to overturn a massive 5-0 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier deficit, but the football gods were in no mood to smile on them.
Coach Tonderai Ndiraya’s charges were mauled in the first-leg of the qualifier last Friday in Johannesburg and were hoping to make history by staging an epic comeback.
The Under-23 Afcon is scheduled to take place in November in Egypt. Three of the best finishers at the eight-team biannual contest will qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
The visitors allowed the hosts to have much of the ball while maintaining a good defensive shape.
Despite enjoying massive possession, the Young Warriors failed to create any meaningful scoring chance, as they were taught a lesson on game management. The visitors were comfortable with sitting back and holding onto possession rather than taking the game to the hosts.
Ndiraya bemoaned inadequate preparations for his side’s embarrassing exit.
“The game was lost in South Africa; coming here I thought much of the work had been done in South Africa where we were bad on the night and poor in all aspects of the game.
“I think it all comes down to the issue of preparations. We did not prepare, we are a team that just assembled and went to South Africa and you don’t do that at this level,” said Ndiraya.
His opposite number David Notoane was happy with his team’s performance.
“It was a good game, tough game away from home. It presented different challenges for us. As you can see we had to adapt in terms of our approach. Zimbabwe put us under pressure, which we expected. We were always going to come here and try to manage the game. Coming into the game with a huge advantage, it was key for us to manage the game. We just had to drag the game as much as possible and wait for opportunities to come and take them. Overall I’m happy with my boys’ reaction and response to this game. However, it was a better performance from Zimbabwe today, but games like this one are won on the basis of who is better prepared for the game,” Notoane said.
Zimbabwe made a host of changes to the starting XI that played in South Africa, with Abubakar Moffat, Shadreck Nyahwa, Emmanuel Jalai, Leeroy Mavunga, Romario Matova and Prince Dube the only ones retaining their places.
The hosts’ best chance of the first half fell to Juan Mutudza whose low effort from outside the box was tipped over for a corner kick in the 23rd minute. Two minutes before the break Dube had his header well saved by goalkeeper, Mondli Mpoto.
The introduction of pacey striker, Obriel Chirinda, just after half time seemed to add firepower upfront for the Young Warriors, but they still could not find the back of net. Chirinda found space inside the box, but shot straight at the goalkeeper. Anelka Chivandire was next to test Mpoto with a shot from inside the box, but again the visitors’ shot stopper was equal to the task.
Zimbabwe: Nelson Chadya, Emmanuel Jalai, Romario Matova, Andrew Mbeba, Shadreck Nyahwa, Abubakar Moffat ( Tatenda Tumba 87 mins), Wilfred Muvimiri (Obriel Chirinda 53rd min), Mandlenkosi Mlilo, Prince Dube, Juan Mutudza, Leroy Mavhunga (Anelka Chivandire 70th min)
Africa: Mondli Mpoto, Kabelo Seriba (Reeve Frosler 78th min), Bongani Sam, Tercious Malepa, Siyabonga Ngezana, Athenkosi Dlala, Teboho Mokoena, Khanya Leshabela(Hamohelo Mahlatsi 58th min), Luther Singh, Gift Links, Jemondre Dickens (Jammie Webber 68th min) — @innocentskizoe