ZIMBABWE’S preparations for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers began on a sound note with an emphatic victory away to Malawi at the Kamuzu Stadium, Blantyre, yesterday afternoon.
Malawi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (0)1
Zimbabwe.. . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 4
The visitors dominated early and went ahead when Highlanders midfielder Peter “Rio” Moyo fired home from close range from a clever lay-off by Knowledge Musona on 20th minute.
The hosts equalised five minutes after the half-time break, striker Atusaye Nyondo’s header from a cross on the left beating Washington Arubi in goal for the Warriors.
Zimbabwe regained the lead four minutes after the equaliser when another Bosso star Kudakwashe Mahachi connected from a Musona cross on the left with a first-time volley that gave the Malawian goalkeeper no chance.
The gulf in quality between the two sides would soon show. Halftime substitute Pascal Manhanga who came in for Danny Phiri was quick to a through pass before showing great composure to beat the advancing keeper with a clean out-footed effort.
Mahachi then turned provider for the fourth goal which was netted by Kingston “King” Nkhatha on 75th minute. The winger skilfully beat his marker on the byline before crossing the ball to an unmarked Nkhatha in the area to tap home, but on the second bite of the cherry.
Warriors coach Ian Gorowa named a relatively strong side for the match. Arubi started in goals and received cover at the back from Carrington Nyadombo (captain) who was partnered by Erick Chipeta at the heart of defence while Milton Ncube and Hardlife Zvirekwi completed the back four. Willard Katsande and Phiri started in central midfield with Musona and Mahachi on either wings. Rio was operating just behind lone striker Nkhatha.
Gorowa handed Caps United and Young Warriors player Ronald Pfumbidzai his first senior cap, the left-back playing the last three minutes of the match.
Katsande tweeted after the match: “When we play, we play to kill. Well done, Warriors. It was a good performance.”
The good result will ensure that the Warriors rise in the Fifa/Coca-Cola rankings that will be released on March 13.
Having missed out on the last editions in 2010, 2012 and 2013, the Warriors are ranked 32 in the qualifying system released by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) last month and will start their Afcon 2015 qualifiers in the second round in May.
The second round, first legs will be played on the weekend of May 16-18 and the return on May 30 to June 1.
The Warriors can play, among other countries, Botswana, Swaziland, Chan holders Libya, Uganda, Mozambique, Congo and Benin.
Fourteen teams will make it to the third round where they will engage in two-legged contests on July 18-20 and August 1-3 to leave seven teams.
The seven teams will join the top-seeded 21, who include reigning champions Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Angola, Egypt, South Africa and Cameroon to take part in the group phases.