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Zambia… … .(0)1COACH Rosemary Mugadza was missing after suffering a family bereavement and the Mighty Warriors slumped to a rare defeat at Rufaro yesterday which complicated their chances of qualifying for the African Women’s Nations Cup finals.

The Mighty Warriors had been hoping to make full use of home aantage especially at a ground which they had turned into a fortress in the last four years but they put on one of their worst performances to fall to their northern neighbours in the final qualifying round, first leg tie.

Mugadza is in Bulawayo to attend the funeral of her brother who died on Saturday.

Without the guidance of their coach, the Mighty Warriors failed to find a way past the Zambians and now face a tougher task in order to secure their place at the Nations Cup finals in Namibia in October.

A communication breakdown in the 64th minute between defenders Patience Mujuru and Melody Musasa gifted Zambia’s Hellen Mubanga with a chance to find the priceless winner.

Mujuru headed back the ball from just outside the box hoping Musasa would clear it but the latter was nowhere to be found and Mubanga intercepted the ball and went on to beat goalkeeper, Chido Dzingirai from close range to give her side an upper hand ahead of the return leg to be played in a fortnight in Zambia. Mighty Warriors assistant coach Yohannes Chikaola had earlier been forced to make a 21st minute substitution when veteran defender Ruvimbo Mutyavaviri twisted her ankle and that seemed to shake the hosts defence as they struggled to contain the Zambians.

Chikaola was forced into another injury-inspired substitution late on when he had to bring on Talent Mandaza for forceful striker Rutendo Makore after she pulled a muscle in the 83rd minute.

Zimbabwe were their own worst enemies as they failed to capitalise on the chances they had earlier on in the game. Just a minute into the match Makore latched onto a spill by Zambian goalkeeper Hazel Mali she struck the side net instead of the target. Eight minutes later Kudakwashe Bhasopo came close with a header but she directed it at the waiting hands for Mali.

The Mighty Warriors then resorted to long-range efforts that did not pay dividends.

Rudo Neshamba also tried her luck but it was just another bad day for the team with her last effort coming in the 89th minute.

Chikaola blamed the defeat on complacency, a number of mistakes and the low fitness levels.

“The match is not yet over, what we did wrong here is that we were complacent we were always second on the ball. We underrated the Zambians considering the Zambians were one month in camp so we needed to move a gear up so that we can match them.

“As you can see in the first half we were second to the ball and our reaction was slow, we were always second to the ball and we also lacked concentration. We can say partly the fitness level is questionable considering the league is not yet kicking in Zimbabwe. Zambia their women’s league is halfway in the season. So we need to improve more on the fitness of the girls and work hard for the second leg in Zambia so that we can win,” said Chikaola.

Chikaola added that the news of Brian Mugadza’s death affected the players psychologically since it was delivered just after their last training session on Saturday.

“Partly we can say so because it happened when we were at the training session, just after the last session yesterday (Saturday),” Chikaola said.

“The match is not yet over, you know playing at home sometimes it’s difficult, there is a lot of pressure so we will not have pressure in Zambia. So will play well, we hope we will turn the tables,” said Chikaola. Zambia coach Charles Bwale was a happy man as he said they came here looking for a draw and a win was a bonus.

“Before we came here our objective was to get a draw or maybe just to score a goal and I think we have done it. And if you look at the Zimbabweans they have got a very good side and I think they gave us a good challenge. I just want to thank my girls, they have done a very good job.

“Zimbabwe have been in the Afcon for maybe twice and we have never been there and now beating Zimbabwe a team that has been at the Afcon I think it gives that motivation to be able to look forward to be able to get something,” said Bwale.


Zimbabwe: C. Dzungirai, F. Muzongondi, N. Magika, R. Mutyavaviri (M. Chirandu 21 minutes) , P. Mujuru, M. Musasa, E. Msipa, N. Ndlovu, M. Nyaumwe, K. Bhasopo (R. Neshamba 60 minutes), R. Makore (T. Mandaza 83 minutes).

Zambia: H. Mali, K. Mupopo, M. Meya, E. Musonda (D. Chisanga 90 minutes), A. Kibanzi, A. Mulenga, S. Banda, M. Mwakapila (N. Sosala 53 minutes), L. Chisamu, H. Mubanga, M. Zulu.Ellina Mhlanga

Source : The Herald