NATIONAL women’s football team, the Mighty Warriors, came from behind three times to hold hosts Uruguay in a thriller at the Domingo Burgueno Miguel Stadium in Maldonado on Tuesday night.
REPORT BY HENRY MHARA IN MALDONADO, URUGUAY
Catherin Berni put Uruguay in front with an angled shot after 25 minutes, but midfielder Nokuthula Ndlovu equalised for the visitors with a spectacular long-range shot nine minutes later.
Carolino Birizanberri’s snap shot restored Uruguay’s lead five minutes after the half time break, but Rutendo Makore brought Zimbabwe back into the game on 64 minutes with a curling shot that beat a rather impressive Sofia Olivera in goals for the South Americans.
Uruguay were back in front two minutes later when Mariana Pion tapped in a square pass from the troublesome Birizanberri, only for Makore to convert from the spot-kick with three minutes remaining, to complete a remarkable comeback for Zimbabwe in this international friendly match.
The Rosemary Mugadza-coached side will play Uruguay Under-20 team tonight and then conclude their tour with another match against the Uruguay senior team on Saturday.
Mugadza reckoned her team could have done better.
“In the first 20 minutes we created better chances, but the girls were not composed in front of goal. We did not do our best today, but the good thing is we managed to come from behind to force a draw,” Mugadza said. “We are going to make some changes to the team that played today. There are seven players who did not play today. They will automatically be given a chance on Thursday (today). We have Mavis Chirandu, Eunice Chibanda and Portia Mukutya who are still under 20-years of age and this would be their game,” she added.
Uruguay coach Jorge Burgell said the draw was a fair result.
The Mighty Warriors started the match slowly and had to absorb a little Uruguay pressure before being gifted the game’s first chance after seven minutes.
A poor clearance in the box was seized upon by Merjury Nyaumwe, arguably the Mighty Warriors best player in this match, but her powerful shot was blocked and Talent Mandaza fired wide from the rebound.
Twelve minutes later Uruguay took the lead against the run of play.
A Tamy Sares free-kick was dropped behind the Mighty Warriors defence and Berni connected it first time with a diagonal shot that gave goalkeeper Onai Chingao no chance.
The Mighty Warriors delivered a timely response to level nine minutes later when left-sided midfielder Ndlovu thundered a shot past a helpless Olivera.
Felistus Muzongondi wasted a good chance to give Zimbabwe an advantage a minute later when she scooped her shot over the bar from a one-on-one situation.
The two teams went to the breather all square, but the second half could not have started worse for the Mighty Warriors as Birizanberri flicked into the nets a Berni through pass after a mistake by Talent Mandaza.
Even though, Zimbabwe’s second-half performance — bar the first couple of minutes, was certainly an improvement. It was not by surprise when they levelled the scores.
Makore was freed by a clever through ball from Nyaumwe to curl it into the nets despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts to keep it out. The goal came barely a minute after substitute Violet Bepete had failed from a point blank situation.
All the action now was at the Uruguay end, but it was them who poked their noses in front again.
The exciting Birizanberri, who was a constant threat everytime in possession, beat her marker on the byline before squaring the ball to Pion for a tidy finish.
It almost got even better for Uruguay on 73 minutes when Berni caught another sight of goal, but Bepete cleared the ball from the goalline to keep her side in the game.
At the other end, Nyaumwe wriggled her way through and thought she had curled the ball into the nets, but Olivera somehow managed to deflect the ball wide.
The final twist to the match came after 87 minutes when defender Sharon Garcia handled the ball as she tried to clear her lines and the referee pointed to the spot.
Makore took responsibility and her low shot managed to sneak below the keeper for Zimbabwe to earn a creditable draw, for which both coaches were incredibly satisfied.
Mighty Warriors line-up:
O Chingao, E Chibanda, D Bhobho, M Musasa, R Mutyavaviri, T Mandaza (E Msipa, 73mins), M Nyaumwe, N Ndlovu, F Muzongondi, E Jeke (V Bepete, 60mins), R Makore.