TALENT Chawapihwa struck a sweet winner as Zimbabwe edged Seychelles in their second Group B match of the 2015 Cosafa Cup at the Moruleng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, last night as the Warriors recorded their second win in the regional football tournament.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
Seychelles . . . . . . 0
Zimbabwe . . . . . (0) 1
After a goalless first half, Chawapihwa lurched onto the ball inside the box, driving it down and wide of a diving Seychelles goalkeeper Jose Euphrasie in the 53rd minute.
Zimbabwe beat Mauritius 2-0 in the opener on Sunday and now have six points from two matches.
Namibia and Mauritius were playing later last night and if that match were to end in a tie, Zimbabwe would have qualified to meet defending champions Zambia in the quarter-finals in a rematch of the 2013 final in Ndola which Chipolopolo won 2-0.
If Namibia won, then they would have to beat Zimbabwe to go through, while the Warriors will only be playing for a point to progress.
Yesterday, Raphael Manuvire turned on the style, mesmerising the overly defensive Islanders with his left foot and was deservedly named the man of the match.
Speaking on television after the match, Manuvire said: “We played as a team and defended well. The coach told us to be patient at halftime and that we would get a goal.”
Zimbabwe were in the hunt as early as the sixth minute, but Evans Rusike delivered a tame effort at goal for an easy picking by Euphrasie.
Skipper Danny Phiri then shot straight at the keeper after 17 minutes when Manuvire was pulled down outside the box.
While Zimbabwe dominated proceedings, they could not fashion the clear-cut chances needed to make a break as the Islanders defended in numbers, absorbing the pressure thrown at them while looking for a chance to catch the Warriors on the break.
But the Warriors played high up and came close in the 25th minute when Chawapihwa’s rasping left footer was fingered onto the upright post to deny the Warriors an opener.
Carlos Rusere, scorer of the opener in the 2-0 win over Mauritius on Sunday, ran wide on the left and delivered a sweet one only for Manuvire to put it wide on the half hour.
Euphrasie saved from Manuvire at the second call after the ZPC Kariba man had made a mazy run into the box, while Ronald Chitiyo, another scorer from the opening match, headed over at the back-post moments later.
Manuvire almost broke the deadlock two minutes before the breather, but again the keeper took his free kick well.
Seven minutes into the second half, the opener came.
Fashioned from the left side, Chawapihwa struck decisively for the three crucial points.
It was almost 2-0 in the 64th minute when the man of the match feigned to shoot and opened a gap, but his effort was punched away by the keeper.
Seychelles had a chance for a last-gasp equaliser when Patson Jaure brought down substitute Achille Henriette outside the box, but the resultant free kick went far and wide.
Coach Saul Chaminuka used three substitutes, Marshall Mudehwe coming in for Rusere in the 68th minute, Livingston Genti replacing the scorer with five minutes left on the clock, while Chitiyo made way for Tichaona Chipunza in the 89th minute.
Seychelles: Jose Euphrasie, Yannick Manoo, Ronny Hoareau, Benoit Marie, Jones Joubert, Senky Vidot, Bertrand Esther, Brian Dorby, Colin Esther, Karl Hall, Gervais Waye-Hive
Zimbabwe: George Chigova, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Thomas Magorimbo, Patson Jaure, Danny Phiri, Talent Chawapihwa, Ralf Kawondera, Ronald Chitiyo, Raphael Manuvire, Carlos Rusere, Evans Rusike
Today: Madagascar vs Tanzania (Moruleng), Lesotho vs Swaziland (Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace)
Tomorrow: Namibia vs Zimbabwe (Moruleng), Seychelles vs Mauritius (Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace)