BY HENRY MHARA
BOTSWANA . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
ZIMBABWE. . . . . . . . . . (0) 2
(The tie ended 3-3 on aggregate but Botswana qualify to the Awcon finals on an away goal’s rule)
THE Mighty Warriors missed out on the ticket to the African Women Africa Cup of Nations (Awcon) finals despite an away win over Botswana in the second leg of the final qualifier in Francistown, Botswana, last
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg, Zimbabwe was faced with a huge task to overturn the deficit, but as soon as skipper Emmaculate Msipa headed Zimbabwe in front with a well-taken header off a Rudo Neshamba cross on the 66th minute, it looked mission possible for the Mighty Warriors.
Four minutes later, Privilege Mupeti raised hopes even more when she doubled Zimbabwe’s lead from a Merjury Nyaumwe cross, to level the aggregate scores at 3-3.
But having conceded three at home last week, the Sithethelelwe Sibanda’s coached side were still behind on an away goal’s rule, and needed another goal to book a ticket to the finals set for Morocco in July this year.
They pushed hard for the clincher and Msipa could have nicked the decisive goal with few minutes remaining, but wasted the golden opportunity when she headed wide from a yard out.
Sibanda, who rued the home defeat, praised her charges for a job well done.
“It was an improved performance from the players,” Sibanda said. “Everyone showed the hunger expected at this level. My players were better in terms of match fitness. We tried to correct the mistakes from the first leg and its unfortunate that we had to lose on away goal’s rule. Lack of confidence and lack of game time contributed to a lot of mistakes in the first leg, so it was always going to be difficult coming into this match trailing by three goals. However, I am happy. There was change and I can say we got what we wanted to achieve although we couldn’t qualify to the finals. The players gave their all. With a bit of luck, we could have got the third goal.”
She added: “We have to regroup and in future we have to prepare better for competitions like these, especially knowing there is no running league. The girls should get be in camp much longer. When we got in camp, our opponents had been there three weeks ahead of us in terms of everything. We can learn from this and try to improve in future.”
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