Mauritius 0-2 Zimbabwe
ZIMBABWE sealed just the perfect start they needed in their opening match of the 2015 Cosafa Cup as they waltzed past Mauritius at the Moruleng Stadium, South Africa last night with a goal in each half.
Carlos Rusere struck in the 28th minute before Ronald Chitiyo’s deflected effort made sure of maximum points as they took control of the group.
In the earlier opening match of the same group, Namibia and Seychelles drew 0-0.
The Warriors face Seychelles on Tuesday and a win will all but seal a place in the last eight of the competition.
Starting off slowly, Zimbabwe increased pace after six minutes when skipper Danny Phiri found space just outside the box, but lacked precision before Chitiyo initiated another move two minutes later that fizzled out cheaply.
The Warriors had their first corner in the 14th minute after Mauritius goalkeeper Kevin Jean-Louis -a wall that prevented an avalanche of goals for Zimbabwe throughout the match, had touched off an Evans Rusike good strike from the edge of the box.
But the opener was to eventually come two minutes before the half-hour mark.
Hardlife Zvirekwi, playing in his favourite right wingback, swung in lovely long cross and while the Mauritius defenders went to sleep, Rusere ghosted in from the blind side with a first time left foot shot that settled into the bottom corner to send the hundreds of Zimbabweans watching the match into joy.
From there, the Warriors, who seemed to be playing only against the goalkeeper, launched wave after wave of attacks but the killer instinct was clearly lacking.
In the 45th minute, skipper Danny Phiri though he had found a way through, bursting past the back line, but again found Jean-Louis not on holiday, saving at point blank range.
The Warriors started the second half in similar fashion, pacy and searching for more, but it took them 10 minutes to get a real chance when Evans Rusike found himself with space inside the box only to shoot weakly at goal.
On the hour, Chitiyo, determined to show National First Division side Royal Eagles what they missed last season, broke down on the right side, performed a double step over to set up Richard Kawondera, but again it was the same man – Jean Louis – who ensured there was no celebration from the Zimbabwean side with another fine stop.Advertisement
Moments later, Raphael Manuvire tore down the line, switched swiftly into the box to tee up Pritchard Mpelele who chested the ball down for Chitiyo to take a crack at goal, but it flew over.
But there was no denying Zimbabwe the second goal in the 66th minute as Manuvire again cut inside from the right and left fly a stunner but Jean-Louis made the mistake of parrying the ball straight into the path on an on-rucking Chitiyo.
But running on his weaker left foot, Chitiyo released a shot that took a wicked deflection of an defender when it seemed the goalkeeper had again dived right, to settle into the nets.
It could have been 3-0 in the 89th minute when the ball clearly cross the line, but Botswana referee Joshua Bondo missed that piece of the action while the far aside assistant referee had his vision blocked by the keeper who had saved the effort from substitute Talent Chawapiwa.
George Chigova, Thomas Magorimbo, Danny Phiri (capt), Hardlife Zvirekwi, Evans Rusike, Prichard Mpelele, Raphael Manuvire, Carlos Rusere, Ralf Kawondera, Ronald Chitiyo, Jaure Patson