Goalkeeper, George Chigova (pictured) was the hero, as he saved three consecutive penalties in a quarterfinal shootout to ensure Zimbabwe progressed to the semi-finals of the Cosafa Cup at the expense of a battling Botswana in Polokwane, South Africa, yesterday.
BY HENRY MHARA IN POLOKWANE, South Africa
Zimbabwe . . . . . (1)
Botswana . . . . (0) 1
(Zimbabwe won 3-1 after a penalty shootout)
The giant goalkeeper saved from Thatayaone Kgamanyane, Tumisang Orebonye and Kobamelo Kebaikanye with Tshepo Maikano, the only one who managed to beat the Warriors’ number one shot stopper.
Abbasi Amidu, Jameson Mukombwe and Khama Billiat all converted for Zimbabwe, who will meet Lesotho in the semis on Wednesday.
Evans Rusike had given Sunday Chidzambga’s men a 39th minute lead, but it was cancelled by Onkabetse Makgantai on the hour mark.
It was a game that the defending champions should have won inside the 90 minutes, but they wasted numerous chances.
After a slow start to the game, Amidu had the ball hitting the back of the net in the 31st minute after getting to the end of a Talent Chawapiwa through pass, but he had strayed inches offside and it was duly chalked off.
At the other end, Chigova made a smart save from Godiraone Modingwane after a cross from Lesenya Ramoraka, who had been given space by Mukombwe.
On the balance of play, the Zebras were the better team, with their short passing troubling the Warriors.
However, they never looked like troubling Chigova.
Zimbabwe needed their big name players to rise up to the occasion, and they eventually did.
Billiat, the star attraction of this tournament, had been, save for some deft touches here and there, anonymous.
But when he did eventually explode, it paid dividends.
The Mamelodi Sundowns man won possession in the middle of the park, and threaded a perfectly weighted pass to Rusike, and the big striker obliged with a rising shot into the top corner.
The Warriors looked to kill off the contest at the start of the second half, and had plenty chances to do so.
Amidu headed weakly at goal before he shot straight at the keeper.
Mukombwe blazed his effort wide.
Skipper Ovidy Karuru was stretchered off the pitch with an injury in the 58th minute, and two minutes later, Botswana were level.
A corner kick was floated into the box, and with the defenders ball watching, Makgantai, one of the shortest men on the pitch, rose the highest to head home.
Mhofu’s men needed to respond, and the next good chance fell onto Amidu, who skied his effort.
Zimbabwe: G Chigova, J Mukombwe, K Moyo, D Lunga, A Mudimu, T Chawapiwa (T Kadewere 81 minutes), M Munetsi, O Karuru (R Hachiro 55 minutes), K Billiat, A Amidu, E Rusike (T Dzvukamanja 85 minutes).
Botswana : M Masule, T maikano, K Phiri (T Orebonye 52 minutes), L Keredilwe, K Seakanyeng, A Modisaotsile,, O Mkagantai,, T sosome, G Modingwane, L Ramoraka, G Mohutsiwa ( T Kgamanye 52 minutes)