THE Zimbabwe Diaspora National Team development squad made history by reaching their first ever cup final at the UK Inner City World Cup (2018) which took place in London last weekend.
The tournament is organised by Lovefootball a reputable football organisation that manages the England Football Legends and also works in partnership with several former England international players.
The Inner City World Cup is a replica World Cup with 32 teams made up from multicultural inner-city communities representing their countries of origin in the full national colours.
Zimbabwe was drawn in Group C dubbed the group of death with two former champions Poland, Ecuador and China. To the surprise of many the Warriors topped their group with 3 wins in 3 games. They went on to dismiss Mauritius 3-0 in the second round and battled the quarterfinal with Sierra Leone and won 2-1.
The semi-final against Bulgaria was gruesome. The Warriors whose average age was about 20 years played an experienced Bulgarian team with 6 ex internationals. They matched them man for man and recovered within minutes to level the scores at 1-1 after going behind in the first 10 minutes. Captain Muzzy Nduna calmly converted from the spot after being sent through by JP. During the second half, Zimbabwe dominated play as the aged Bulgarians defended to force for penalties. Zimbabwe Goalkeeper Nab Moyo was the hero of the day, he saved two penalties. Shingirayi converted the winning penalty with venom to send the sizeable Zim crowd into wild cheers. The unimaginable had happened Zimbabwe now in the finals to face another former champion Colombia.
The two giants locked horns in a thrilling cup final which saw 2 red cards from each side; both captains being sent off after getting involved in a serious altercation which also spilled into the terraces as both set of fans started trading insults, pushing and shoving.
The cup final was a game of two halves. Colombia dominated the first half thriving on pace forcing the Zimbabwean back line to make errors. However the second half was a different story, Zimbabwe grew in confidence and stepped up the tempo, they hit the post twice with Shepard Ndlovu and Godwill Maroka.
In defence the Abrahams brothers, Chad and Bailey, looked solid as a partnership. They were calm and composed and passed the test on several occasions.
It’s a shame that this thrilling and exciting Cup Final had to be decided on penalties after 90 minutes of a deadlock. Both teams battled with 10 men and deserved to win. Unfortunately the Warriors missed two penalties through Martin Chirimuta and Godwill. V
eteran Goalkeeper Obey Murefu who had been brought in as a substitute following an injury to Nab Moyo could not save the day. It ended 4-2 to the Colombians and heartbreak for Zimbabwe at the final hurdle.
After the game, Zimbabwe Head Coach Kelvin Mushambi praised his players for being brave, courageous and determined to win. Although he was gutted with the result, he admitted that he was inspired with the talent at his disposal.
Marshall Gore, Team Zimbabwe UK Project Director & ZIFA Rep in UK/EU was also full of praise of the Zimbabwe team. Gore said, “We have discovered some gems today, if we nature these boys and develop them together with our other talented players back home Zimbabwe could play at the World Cup in 2026. We need to start the work now, I mean today”
Mark Aubrey Tournament organiser was also full of praise of Team Zimbabwe UK; he described them as the best ever young team seen at the tournament.
All was not lost for Zimbabwe; their legends Team (Veterans) won the Legends Trophy. They beat Bolivia 2-0 in the Cup Final after dismissing Albania and Colombia in the group stages. Well done Legends.
The next assignment is the International Freedom Cup which will see Zimbabwe play Ghana and the Young Warriors dating Nigerian Super Eaglets in London on the 15th of July 2018 at New River Sports Stadium. This event will be sponsored by Cassava Remit who are now the official partners of Team Zimbabwe UK in all their community projects. More Details to follow.
Team Line Up
Goalkeepers: Nab Moyo; Simba Zingwe; Obey Murefu
Defenders: Bailey Abrams; Chad Abrams; Nkosi Mzungwana; Tawanda Kujeke; Martin Chirimuuta; Eddie Mudzi; Innocent Muzenda;Craig
Matabile; Edward Mapfirakupa; Ray Undi; Jr Fred Mtumbi; Shingi Masoha; Sean Muchenje
Forwards: Godwill Moraka;Takudzwa Mawoko; Shepherd Ndlovu; Shepherd Machingauta; Muzzy Nduna
Zimbabwe Road to The Cup Final
Group Stages Results
Zimbabwe 2 Ecuador 1
Zimbabwe 2 Poland 0
Zimbabwe 5 China 0
Zimbabwe 3 Mauritius 0
Zimbabwe 2 Sierra Leone 1
Zimbabwe 1 Bulgaria 1 (Zim win 4-2 on penalties)
Zimbabwe 0 Colombia 0 (Colombia win 4-2 on penalties)
Player of the Tournament: Chad Abrahams
Top Goal Scorer: Muzzy Nduna