VETERAN coach Sunday Chidzambwa says the Young Warriors played well against neighbours South Africa in the first leg of the Under-23 African Championship qualifiers at Rufaro on Sunday and believes they can upset their opponents in their own backyard.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
The ZPC Kariba coach – the most successful coach in Zimbabwe after leading the Warriors to their first ever African Cup of Nations finals in Tunisia in 2004, having also guided Harare giants Dynamos to the final of the African Champions League in 1998 where they lost to Asec Mimosas of Ivory Coast in a hugely controversial match, said he felt the match was evenly balanced and Zimbabwe could have won the match had their top striker Thomas Chideu not been injured.
“I feel the game was evenly balanced although South Africa had lots of possession. Both teams created chances, but Zimbabwe were affected by the injury to Chideu. He was giving South Africa lots of problems. He is a very intelligent player and I think if he can have someone like Knox Mtizwa to play just behind him they can go and cause an upset in South Africa,” said Chidzambwa.
Chideu was stretchered off the pitch after 35 minutes when he sustained an injury in a tussle with a South African player leaving the team to play the rest of the match without the talented forward. He was replaced by How Mine striker Mgini Sibanda.
South Africa, however, eventually managed to secure a crucial away goal in a 1-1 draw courtesy of midfielder Keagan Dolly — one of the best players on the afternoon.
Dolly profited from a mistake by Young Warriors captain Wisdom Mutasa who was dispossessed by Siphelele Ntshangase before setting up the Amaglug star who beat goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva with a low shot.
Kalisto Pasuwa’s men, however, equalised on 83 minutes through Walter Musona who converted from the spot kick after South Africa captain Ishmael Mngonyama handled inside the penalty box.
FC Platinum forward Walter Musona then stepped up to convert the penalty which brought Zimbabwe on level with their rivals.
Zimbabwe now need a scoring draw better than a 1-1 draw to qualify.
The winner between the two sides joins hosts Senegal and six other African countries at the African Under-23 Championships in Darkar, in December which will serve as the qualifiers for the 2016 Olympics.
The top three nations at the tournament will automatically qualify for the Olympic Games.
Zimbabwe has never made it to the Olympics in their history coming agonisingly close to qualifying for the 2000 Olympics in Sidney under then Dutch coach Clemence Westerhoff only to be eliminated by the Eagles of Nigeria who handed them a harsh football lesson in a 4-0 rout in a game they needed just a draw to seal a ticket to the finals.