Midlands Province’s Manunure High School finally broke the eight-year jinx when they qualified for the Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 soccer national finals after their 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory over Gokwe South representative Dzivarenganwa High School in the provincial finals that were held at Thornhill High School in Gweru on Friday.
The game had ended 1-1 in regulation time with Isaac Dhliwayo having given Dzivarenganwa the lead in the first half before Tendai Mudzingwa settled matters for the Midlands provincial winners midway through the second half.
Brighton Magwera had the chance to win the match for Dzivarenganwa when his school was awarded a penalty with five minutes remaining on the board but shot wide to set out a penalty shootout.
Zacharia Maka and Anyway Chawadya scored for the Gokwe South-based team while David Toperesa and Titos Togara could not find the mark during the penalty shoot-out. Mudzingwa, McWilliams Mwafulirwa, Nesbit Gwede and Takudzwa Bhunu scored their kicks to propel Manunure to the national finals that will be held at Marondera High School on July 29-31. Panashe Tsikira had missed his effort for Manunure.
The last time Manunure represented the Midlands Province in the national finals of the same competition was back in 2003, when they boasted a star-studded team that had Warriors goalkeeper Washington Arubi.
“It has been long since we qualified for the national finals. Other schools had already forgotten about us, but I want to remind them that we are back,” said Manunure head coach Joe Sirewo.
“We have won the provincial finals and the focus now is on the national finals. We have shown we are a very competitive team, we will go back and do some final touches here and there before the national finals but we are OK,” he added.
Manunure will now meet winners from other provinces at the national finals. Each winner from the 10 provinces was placed into one of four groups comprising three teams each. Masvingo Province will provide two teams by virtue of having the defending champions Dewure in their province while Mashonaland East Province will also provide two teams because they are the host province.
Mwenezi High School will represent Masvingo as provincial winners while Kandava will represent Mashonaland East at the national finals.
Harare Province will be represented by Prince Edward (PE) who beat nemesis Churchill 1-0 in the finals. PE, who is in Group A will be accompanied by Dewure and Mosi-oa-Tunya who are the winners from Matabeleland North Province after beating David Livingstone 2-0 in the provincial finals.
Hosts Marondera High School will lead Group B and will fight it out with Matabeleland South provincial winners Mzingwane and Manunure. Group C comprises of Mwenezi, Vimbai Secondary School and Howard High School.
Kandava High School will represent the host province in Group D and will battle it out with Bulawayo representative Gifford Boys High and Gaza High from Manicaland.