By Sports Reporter
Zimbabwe …(2) 2
Comoros …..(0) 0
FIRST half goals by Khama Billiat and Evans Rusike were enough to hand an unconvincing Zimbabwe Warriors a winning start to their COSAFA Cup title defence, as they progressed to the semi-finals of the regional tournament with victory over Comoros at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on Saturday evening.
The Warriors who fielded several first choice players in the match against the Indian Ocean Island minors, wasted no time in breaking the deadlock just after six minutes when SuperSport United striker Rusike turned home Tendayi Darikwa’s brilliant cross from the right side.
After the fast start, the Warriors were guilty of letting the foot of the pedal as they lacked rhythm going forward but still created some good opportunities as Billiat went close on 16 minutes with a low shot from outside the area.
Billiat turned on the magic nine minutes to halftime with an exquisite first-time volley into the bottom corner from the far post to double the Warriors’ lead after being set up by a brilliant cross by midfielder Butholezwe Ncube.
Pressure continued to mount on the Islanders in the second half, however Zimbabwe lacked the killer instinct upfront with Rusike going close to a second on 51 minutes following a first-time shot from the far post.
Although they managed to keep their opponents quiet for long periods of the match, with goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda virtually a spectator Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa would be disappointed that his charges didn’t manage to score more goals.
The veteran coach made a change on 65 minutes as Knox Mutizwa came in for France-based forward Kadewere while skipper Knowledge Musona was introduced in the last 13 minutes for Evans Rusike.
Comoros put on a decent showing towards the later stages of the match, firing in a couple of shots at goal to test Sibanda but in the end, the AFCON bound Warriors were just to strong and held on to confirm their spot in the semi-finals where they will meet Lesotho.
Lesotho booked their place in the semi-finals for a third year in a row after edging Uganda 3-2 on penalties following a goalless draw in the earlier quarter-final clash at the same venue earlier in the day.
Meanwhile Lesotho and Comoros will have a chance to redeem themselves in the plate section of the tournament.
Warriors XI: E. Sibanda, T. Darikwa, R. Pfumbidzai, A. Mudimu, E. Rusike (K Musona, 79, O. Karuru (c), K. Billiat, T. Kamusoko, T. Kadewere (K Mutizwa, 69), J. Dzingai, B. Ncube.