TENDAI NDORO’S brace ensured Zimbabwe stayed on course to lift their fifth Cosafa Castle Cup despite putting an unconvincing display to knock out Lesotho in the semi-final at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium last night.
FROM WELLINGTON TONI IN NDOLA, ZAMBIA
Lesotho . . . . . . . . . . (1) 1
Zimbabwe . . . . . . . .(2) 2
The Castle Lager Premier Soccer League top scorer with 11 goals from 16 matches, struck twice in the 14th and 24th minute to set a final between the winner of the other match between South Africa and Zambia played later last night.
Ndoro was deservedly named the man-of-the-match, following in the footsteps of Ronald Chitiyo, who walked away with the same accolade in the quarter-final win against Malawi.
The Warriors made some changes to the starting line-up after Hardlife Zvirekwi failed to recover from a knock suffered during the quarter-final.
In his place, coach Klaus Dieter Pagels brought in Prosper Matizanadzo to partner Felix Chindungwe in central defence while Hwange’s Eric Chipeta was moved to the right wing back.
Ocean Mushure, the roving Dynamos left back remained on the left.
Lesotho led within three minutes when Motlalepula Mofolo converted a low cross from the left after both Mushure and Chindungwe had been caught flatfooted.
The Warriors tried to hit back immediately, but Charles Sibanda failed to connect from inside the box when Ronald Chitiyo had threaded in a through pass.
The Warriors needed to change strategy immediately, but continued with their short passing game as if they were leading.
From a simple throw in from Chipeta, Ndoro, in typical goal poacher fashion, turned his marker, captain Ntobo Maitheri once and blasted past goalkeeper Khouloue Phasumane to the near post in the 14th minute.
Zimbabwe’s short passing game was more dangerous and goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupangedengu seemed to be nervous, playing the ball to a shaky Matizanadzo even when the defender was under the attention of two Lesotho strikers in the 19th minute.
At the other end, Mushure’s full-bloodied grounder went wide after Chitiyo had dazzled his way past the Lesotho defence.
Devon Chafa conjured up the move of the evening, finding Chipeta whose cross into the box was dummied by Sibanda for Ndoro, to bury home for Zimbabwe’s winner. Lesotho almost levelled on the half hour when Mushure left his position after a Chipeta mistake but Nyamupangendengu came to the rescue stopping Thapelo Tale’s shot.
Jeremia Kapela’s free kick was saved by the Zimbabwe goalkeeper a minute after the restart as Lesotho sought another fine start to the second stanza.
Ndoro then tried to set up Sibanda in the 55th minute, but the FC Platinum man blasted the ball wide.
Pagels, still leaving out Ali Sadiki, brought in Nicholas Alifandika for the ineffective Silas Songani in the 58th minute as Zimbabwe sought that insurance goal, but still lacked the aggression.
Ndoro missed out on a memorable hat-trick when he headed straight into the hands of the goalkeeper from a Chitiyo cross from the right.
Sibanda then set up Ndoro in the 69th minute to no avail while Masimba Mambare’s speculative long range effort fell safely into the keeper’s hands. Pagels then took out Chitiyo in the 71st minute as the coach narrowed his options further for a third goal.
Zimbabwe’s play continued to lack aggression and the substitutions did not help matters either.
Nyamupangendengu then almost committed the blunder of the night when he failed to hold on to easy ball from Jeremia but then made amends when he punched away the resultant corner kick in the 80th minute.
Lesotho piled pressure from all angles and there seemed to be no reaction from the technical bench on how to stem the tide and put the game to bed. The pressure meant, ball supply to Ndoro was always lacking.
Lesotho: R Mokhahlane, M Mofolo (T Koetle 47th min), N Moitheri, T Tale, M Katleko, T Masualle, B Moletsane (M Potloane 80th min), M Litsepe (R Lehlomela 37th min), K Phasumane, K Jeremia, L Nkau
Zimbabwe: M Nyamupanendengu, E Chipeta, P Matizanadzo, F Chindungwe, D Chafa, M Mambare, R Chitiyo (L Chibwiro 71st min), S Songani (N Alifandika 58th min), C Sibanda (N Guyo 93rd min), T Ndoro