WARRIORS came from behind to claim a point away in Swaziland, a result which however, did very little in the team’s ambitions to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
BY HENRY MHARA IN LOBAMBA, SWAZILAND
The draw saw Zimbabwe retaining the second spot in the Group L log standings with 5 points, the same number as leaders Swaziland who tops the group due to a superior goal difference.Other group members Guinea and Malawi, both on one point, are probably the major beneficiaries of this afternoon’s result at the Somhlolo Stadium.
The two are set to clash tonight with a good chance to close the gap on the log leaders.
It is the Kalisto Pasuwa coached Warriors side though who will see this as a missed opportunity to take control of the group as a win here would have seen them going three points clear of Swaziland.But on the balance of play, they would take the point as it could have been worse, with goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva making some crucial saves especially late in the match to keep his team’s hopes of qualification alive.
The Warriors, who conceded early against Guinea in their last match in Harare, found themselves behind just after two minutes when fullback Eric Chipeta lost track of his man Felix Badenhorst on the blindside for an easy header past Mukuruva.
Zimbabwe dominated the ball afterwards, but with Pasuwa playing a double link of captain Willard Katsande and Danny Phiri, never really created any meaningful chance with the team clearly lacking creativity in midfield.
They would get their goal, in fortunate circumstances though, when a quickly taken corner by Warriors liveliest player Knowledge Musona, was bundled home by Swaziland defender Sifiso Mabila for an own goal on 44th minute.
Zimbabwe started the second half well, Musona’s stinging shot parried out by Swazi goalkeeper Nhlanhla Gwebu and from the resultant corner kick, Costa Nhamoinesu rattled the bar with a header before the ball was cleared off danger.
But the hosts soon grew into the match and took control especially after the introduction of their talisman Tony Tabetse just after the hour mark.
The veteran forced Mukuruva to make a super save from range on 74th minute and the Dynamos young goalie had to make another double save moments later as Swaziland exploited the gaps left in midfield to attack their opponents.
As the clock ticked away, Mukuruva again kept his side into the contest with yet another top drawer save from a free-kick as the two teams finished the match frantically in seach of an elusive winner.
Zimbabwe: Tatenda Mukuruva, Onismo Bhasera, Elisha Muroiwa, Costa Nhamoinesu, Eric Chipeta, Willard Katsande, Danny Phiri, Matthew Rusike, Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, Cuthbert Malajila
Swaziland: Nhlanhla Gwebu, Sifiso Mabila, Sanele Mkhweli, Machawe Dlamini, Siyabonga Mdluli, Njabulo Ndlovu, Xolani Sibandze, Mxolisi Lukhele, Sabelo Ndzinisa Felix Badenhorst, Mthunzi Mkhontfo