Zimbabwe ………………………………………… (0)2
Mozambique …………………………………….. (1)2
THE Zimbabwe Under-17 national soccer team were left with some heavy homework to do after been held by visiting Mozambique in an African Youth Championships first round, first leg qualifier at Gwanzura yesterday.
REPORT BY RANGANAI DZOTIZEI
The second leg would be played in Maputo, Mozambique in a fortnight. Yesterday, the Young Warriors had to dig deep to avoid embarrassment, having trailed two goals by Jonas and Aristides. Tinotenda Kadewere and substitute, Viala Tadzoka, salvaged a draw for the hosts.
The visitors had to endure the last half of an hour with 10 men after Germino was sent off for a second bookable offence.
The match, watched by a sizeable crowd, started on a high note, with the youngsters delivering some catchy footwork and with only 17 minutes played, Ali-Chiwa Machingura, asked the Mozambique goalkeeper, Pedro, some questions with a booming shot which went wide.
Four minutes later, the Young Warriors paid dearly for a defensive mix-up between Tatenda Mkuruva and his back four, when Jonas ghosted from the blind side to punish the hosts with a simple tap in.
Bret Amidu, young brother to Black Leopards’ Zimbabwean international, Abbas, was a piece of work for the Young Mambas with some trickery in midfield, but over-elaboration was his greatest undoing. He could have fed Calvin Bingala on the stroke of half-time after breaking through the defence but his movements were snuffed out by the defence.
The Young Warriors came from the breather fired up and levelled matters, seconds after restart by winning a penalty.
Machingura’s goal-bound effort was handled in the box and from the resultant spotkick, Kadewere sent Pedro the wrong way.
Three minutes later, Malawian referee, Dennis Nguluwe adjudged captain Carlos Mavhurume to have fouled striker, Infrain, in the box and pointed to the spot, with Aristides making no mistake, beating Mkuruva all systems out.
The Young Warriors needed some moment of brilliance to preserve some pride and it was the substitute, Tadzoka, who provided hope 23 minutes from time.
Receiving the ball from the middle, Tadzoka dashed through the rearguard, shrugging off close attention from a defender, slid the ball in between Pedro’s hands to send the fans into delirium.
Coach, Lloyd Chigove, was upbeat about the reverse leg, insisting that all hope was not lost.
“Despite the draw, we can take the positives and move on. I am confident that the boys can bring a result from Maputo,” Chigove said.
Mozambique mentor, Carlos Manuel, was naturally satisfied, with away goals counting double.
“It was a good game and we played well. Zimbabwe is a good team and we hope to finish the job at home,” Manuel said.
Zimbabwe will have to beat Mozambique to face Congo Brazzaville on the road to the championships to be staged in Morocco next year.