By Sports Reporter
(Warriors progress 3-2 on aggregate)
WARRIORS talisman Khama Billiat grabbed an injury time winner that sent Zimbabwe through to the group stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with a late show against stubborn Somalia at the National Sports Stadium.
France-based midfielder Marshall Munetsi scored a 75th minute opener that gave Zimbabwe hope following last week’s 1-0 defeat in Djibouti.
But an equaliser by the visitors after a mistake by captain Alec Mudimu, five minutes before full time meant that Zimbabwe needed two goals to qualify.
With Zimbabwe seemingly on its way out, substitute Knox Mutizwa inspired the comeback blasting home from a freekick two minutes later.
Billiat, a last minute inclusion in the squad on the eve of the match then scored the goal that mattered a minute into injury time.
Just like in Djibouti, the Warriors dominated the early exchanges but failed to trouble the ultra defensive Somalians.
Evans Rusike almost gave the hosts the lead inside 15 minutes with a miscued cross that almost looped over Saidi Ali but the Somali finger tipped it over the bar.
The Warriors continued to pile on the pressure but the Somalis threw bodies on the line each time there was danger.
Zimbabwe had two good opportunities on the edge of the box but the usually dependable Billiat fluffed them.
The best chance of the game fell to Ovidy Karuru , coming face to face with the goalkeeper and he shot straight at Ali.
Divine Lunga had clear sight of goal wide in the box, at the end of an Ian Nekati’s cross but he fired wide.
One could feel that it was going to be a bad day in the office for the Warriors, going into the break deadlocked with the minnows.
Somalia had the audacity to claim the first shot at goal after the breather substitute Farhan Ahmed dragging his shot wide following a counter attack.
Ali denied Rusike 10 minutes into the second half punching a fiery rising shot over.
Munetsi gave the restless local fans something to celebrate when he opened the scoring for the Warriors with an overhead kick after Somalia failed to clear a Kuda Mahachi’s corner kick 15 minutes from full-time.
Omar Mohammed grabbed the much needed away goal capitalising on a defensive mistake by Mudimu with five minutes to go.
Two minutes later Zimbabwe were back in front Mutizwa curling in a freekick.
Billiat made sure that Zimbabwe remain in the competition with a well taken goal after some good work by Mutizwa.
Zimbabwe: Divine Lunga, Ian Nekati, Alec Mudimu, Teenage Hadebe, Marshall Munetsi, Ovidy Karuru, Khama Billiat, Evans Rusike (Terrence Dzvukamanja 75′), Kuda Mahachi ( Thabani Kamusoko 90’l1, Clive Augusto (Knox Mtizwa)
Somalia: Saidi Ali, Younis Farah, Mohamud Ali Mohamed, Ahmed Ahmed, Abdel Mohamed, Abdelaziz Yousef (Abas Mohamed 60′), Abdul Abduhahi, Anwar Shakunda (Farhan Ahmed 46′), Omar Mohammed, Hussein Mohammed (Eyman Hussein 75′)