Mauritius . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
Zimbabwe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 3
JUST the perfect start for Ian Gorowa!
This was the tonic the Warriors needed for a third appearance at the African Nations Championships (Chan) when they dismantled a hapless Mauritius in the first leg in their own backyard at the George V Stadium, Curepipe, Mauritius, yesterday afternoon.
FROM MICHAEL MADYIRA IN CUREPIPE, MAURITIUS
Nelson Mazivisa struck a brace and substitute Simba Sithole grabbed his maiden Warriors goal to inspire Zimbabwe to a comfortable win.
Gorowa in his post-match analysis was convinced that the Warriors could have inflicted more damage.
“The pitch conditions did not allow us to play a normal passing game, but the boys tried their best.
“We could have scored more than three goals had the conditions been better. Mauritius played well and that is evidenced by the number of chances they created in the second half. We have to finish the job in Harare and go to the next stage.”
And that next stage could be another battle of the Zambezi against Zambia, who are poised to qualify after a 1-1 draw against Botswana in Gaborone on Saturday.
The islanders did seriously press Zimbabwe especially in the second half with their star player — Fabrice Pithia — a constant threat, but he was fighting a lone battle.
Their coach Akbar Patel appeared to have lost hopes of successfully staging a comeback in Harare.
“It is going to be very difficult for us to score more than three goals in Zimbabwe. We will give it a good fight, but it would not be easy for us,” Patel said.
“Zimbabwean players are very mature with better ability and they were more efficient in front of goal. Their level of football is much higher than ours, so it was always going to be difficult for us to beat Zimbabwe.”
Arriving at New George expecting to easily run past the hosts, the Warriors could have netted a dozen goals, but would feel hard done by persistent showers that dampened the pitch until the final moments of the match.
Charles Sibanda set the tone for a relentless charge as early as four minutes into the match when he forced a save from Mauritius goalkeeper Aboo Bakar Augustin.
Mazivisa complemented by heading in a Sibanda cross on 15 minutes for the Warriors’ opener while Milton Ncube also probed Augustin 11 minutes later. Cheered by a small, but noisy crowd, the hosts responded a minute later when Fabrice’s twin brother Fabien, beat Augustine Mbara with a powerful shot that Tafadzwa Dube saved at the second attempt.
Dube was almost fooled by Angelo Coco’s deflected shot six minutes into the second half and Stephane Pierre shot over the bar three minutes later with Dube sprawling on the ground, as he tried to cut Fabien’s cross.
Sithole then connected a low cross from debutant Ncube for Zimbabwe’s second, but the Fabrice show continued on 64 minutes when Dube desperately saved his shot for a corner.
Two powerful shots on target from Sithole and Mazivisa as well as an off-target hit by Devon Chafa all inside two minutes, underlined the Warriors’ dominance.
But John Calambe would curse his teammate Coco for blocking his headed effort off a Pierre cross on 76 minutes while Dube pushed for a corner from Pierre’s free-kick a minute later.
Mazivisa sealed his brace and killed the match as a contest right at the death after rising high to meet substitute Tawanda Muparati’s corner-kick to score his third Warriors goal.
Zimbabwe — T Dube, P Jaure, A Mbara, E Chipeta, H Zvirekwi, D Chafa, M Ncube, M Mambare (F Chindungwe 80th min), S Songani (S Sithole 45th min), Charles Sibanda (T Muparati 74th min), N Maziwisa,
Mauritius — B Augustin, J Estazie, J Permal, J Pierre, J Bazerole, M Coco, C Veeranah , F J Pithia, F L Pithia, J Calambe, H Buckland.