YOUNG Warriors player Praise Tonha’s participation at the ongoing Cosafa Under-20 Championships has ended prematurely due to an injury he suffered during his team’s 2-1 victory over Swaziland on Wednesday in Maseru, Lesotho.
HENRY MHARA,SPORTS REPORTER
It was Zimbabwe’s first match at the regional football tournament. The skilful Monomotapa midfielder suffered a concussion after he was involved in a nasty collision with a Swaziland player.
Tonha was rushed to hospital with a suspected head and neck injury.
Young Warriors manager Patrick Mutesva yesterday said the player was discharged from the local medical centre at around midnight after scans revealed that he did not suffer major injuries.
But Mutesva said the technical team had decided not to use the player any further in this tournament.
“They did CT scans on him and fortunately the results were clear. But he was in pain and they injected him a pain-easing drug and he was discharged at around midnight. He is looking OK today (yesterday), he is walking freely. But the coach feels that he cannot risk the player so Tonha will not take any further part in this tournament,” said Mutesva from Maseru yesterday.
Walter Musona, younger brother of Warriors talisman Knowledge, and Tafadzwa Kutinyu grabbed the two goals against Swaziland that saw the Young Warriors, who are in Group D, qualifying to the quarter-finals of the tournament.
They will now meet Group leaders Botswana tomorrow, a match which will decide the group winner. Just like the Young Warriors, the Young Zebras are also on three points, but enjoy a superior goal difference after beating Swaziland 2-0 on Tuesday. With two teams from each group progressing through, Swaziland are out of the tournament.
If Zimbabwe beat Botswana and finish as Group D leaders, they will meet Group B runners-up, a group which has tournament favourites Angola. Group B’s other members are Mozambique and Madagascar.
If the Young Warriors draw or lose to Botswana, they will meet Group B winners, likely to be Angola after their 5-1 thrashing of Madagascar on Wednesday.
“We watched Botswana playing against Botswana, they are beatable. We definitely have to win this match and avoid Angola at the next stage because they are playing some beautiful football. But we also believe that we brought a very strong side here which can give us the title. The players should just guard against complacency. They underrated Swaziland and we were almost punished,” said Mutesva.
Yesterday was a rest day for all the teams, and the players were taken through life skills lessons on match-fixing, anti-doping, HIV and Aids and how to deal with the media.