Mighty Warriors coach Rosemary Mugadza and her Botswana counterpart Gaoletlhoo “Ronaldo” Nkutlwisang believe the tie is still open after the Mighty Warriors’ narrow 1–0 victory over the Zebras in the Caf African Women Championships preliminary round first leg qualifier.
The match was played at the University of Botswana Stadium on Saturday.
Striker Erina Jeke scored the priceless away goal just a minute after the restart with a well-executed diving header, off a Talent Mandaza cross from the right.
The goal could prove very useful when the two teams meet in the reverse fixture at Rufaro Stadium in a fortnight.
The Mighty Warriors will need at least a draw from that match to qualify for first and final round of the qualifiers where the Super Falcons of Nigeria lie in wait.
Despite Saturday’s sweet victory that virtually put her side in the driving seat, Mugadza remains cautious.
“We will have a good advantage playing at home, but to be honest, the chances are still the same.
Botswana have improved a lot since the last time they played in the Cosafa championships.
“They beat South Africa 2-1 in these qualifiers in 2010 and Banyana Banyana had to turn the tables in the second leg which shows how unpredictable they are. They gave us a good run and we will definitely not take them lightly when they come to Harare for the reverse fixture,” said Mugadza.
The former Mighty Warriors captain bemoaned the numerous missed opportunities by her side. Left-sided midfielder Sheilla Makoto, who had a subdued game, failed to punish the Botswana side when she came face to face with goalkeeper Peggy Segokgo in the first half, delaying her shot and defender Bonang Otlhagile managed to recover to clear the lines.
Marjoury Nyaumwe also failed to convert from a similar situation when she was put through by Rudo Neshamba in the second half, but blasted the ball straight at Segokgo when placing the ball wide was the simple option.
“It was an open game and both teams had their chances. Botswana were playing second ball and we followed their type of play and that is where we lost it. Had we played our normal game, we could have won by a big margin which could have made our job easier in the second leg.”
Mugadza added: “Our left link was not functioning well. Sheilla did not perform like we expected. We just hope Nokuthula (Ndlovu) will be fit for the return leg because she was badly missed on that flank.”
The victorious Mighty Warriors team is expected home this afternoon.
Botswana coach Nkutlwisang conceded her side, which was in camp for almost two months preparing for the tie, is still far from a complete side that can match the Mighty Warriors.
“Zimbabwe have improved a lot and you could see from the way they were playing. They are very confident on the ball and their midfield is very mobile. But I think my girls played very well in terms of keeping our shape.
Even though we didn’t score, we were the better side in the first half. We need to play an international match before we come to Zimbabwe. I know it will be a difficult task to win there, but we will have to,” said Nkutlwisang.
It will be a big mountain to climb for “Ronaldo” and her charges if the Mighty Warriors team can replicate their Saturday display, especially in the second half where their performance was almost faultless.