By Sports Reporter
Zimbabwe Under – 23……. (0) 2
Mozambique Under – 23…. (0) 0
THE Zimbabwe Under-23 side needed two late goals from substitutes Obriel Chirinda and Delic Murimba, to beat Mozambique and progress to the final round of the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at the National Sports Stadium on Tuesday.
The tournament which is entering it’s third edition, also provides route to qualify for the 2020 Japan Olympic Games.
With the match seemingly headed for a draw Chirinda, a Soccer Star of the Year finalist in the local league last year broke the deadlock two minutes from time.
Chirinda had been on the field of play for barely three before he gathered the ball in a wide position, checked inside looking for room to shoot and let fly from just outside the box a shot that ricocheted off a Mozambican defender and bounced into the empty net.
With the visitors pouring forward in search of an equaliser that would take them to the next round another substitute Anelka Chivandire broke free on wing and picked Murimba who tapped home the second.
Zimbabwe are now set to play South Africa in the final qualifier for the eight team tournament, that will be held in Egypt, in November.
“I want to admit that we didn’t have it easy today, it was a very difficult game. It was also difficult in Maputo so we knew these guys were very strong.
“We had a plan and we let them control the first half. I think we came back strong in the second half after the introduction of our substitutes. At the end of the day we are happy we got the result we wanted,” Young Warriors coach Tonderai Ndiraya said after the match.
“I must say work has started now and I confident that by the time we play South Africa our boys would have raised their fitness levels.”
The visitors’ game plan was clear, that is to get an early away goal and put pressure on Zimbabwe.
Thus Mozambique was the stronger of the two sides early on, with attempts from Ernesto Nilton and Bruno Langa.
Zimbabwe on the other hand, struggled for rhythm, let alone create any meaningful chances.
The hosts’ first real came early in the second half when captain Prince Dube blazed a Leeroy Mavunga cross over the bar from inside six-yard box.
With Zimbabwe having a far much better second half, Chirinda was introduced in the 85th minute before he struck the first goal moments later
Murimba, also introduced with 15 minutes to go killed off the match as a contest deep into stoppage time.
Zimbabwe – Mapisa M, Makaha P, Nyahwa S, Chisi T, Ndlovu M, Tavengwa T, Mavunga L, Patrick S, Zata M (Chivandire A 64′), Dube P(Murimba D 75), Muvirimi W (O Chirinda 84′)
Mozambique: Guambe V, Muze D, Mathe C, Macandza D, Cumbane K, Ernesto N, Langa B, Capena H, Simbine F, Mario V ( Cisse K 73′), Salimo S