NEEDING just a draw to qualify for the last eight of the 2015 Cosafa Cup, the Warriors crumbled in stunning fashion to a clearly technically superior Namibia in the last Group B match played at the Moruleng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, last night.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
Namibia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1)4
Zimbabwe . . . . . . . . . . . . (0)1
The Warriors, who reached the 2013 finals only to lose 2-0 to Zambia in Ndola, were put to the sword by a superbly taken double from man-of-the-match Deon Hotto, Chris Katjiukua and substitute Sadney Urikhub.
Raphael Manuvire scored a penalty in the 82nd, but it was too little too late as the Brave Warriors were already leading 3-1.
Zimbabwe went into the match topping the standings with six points from two matches after beating Mauritius and Seychelles while Namibia had four from a win and a draw, and needed an outright win to progress to face defending champions Zambia in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
Namibia asked early questions with two corners in the opening five minutes and a straight shot at goalkeeper George Chigova in the seventh minute by Petrus Shitembi, but all the efforts came to nought.
But two minutes later, they were ahead. Katjiukua headed home at the far post as the Zimbabwean defence rushed to clear their lines from a long cross — the result of yet another corner — without noticing the towering defender running into the box.
The Warriors sought to reduce the deficit immediately, but Marshall Mudehwe’s effort came off the bar with keeper Virgil Vries beaten.
It could have been 2-0 for Namibia 10 minutes later, but Chigova pushed over a long-range effort from Hotto.
Zimbabwe kept chasing the ball with Ronald Chitiyo and Talent Chawapihwa coming close, but Namibia were always first to the ball and defended well.
At half time, coach Saul Chaminuka made two changes bringing in Manuvire for Evans Rusike and Mudehwe for Pritchard Mpelele, but still the leveller remained elusive.
And in their search for one, they opened some gaps at the back that Namibia were just too happy to exploit and on the hour, Namibia secured their last-eight berth when Hotto raced clear, with no defender in sight, and chipped the ball over an advancing Chigova.
And if one thought that was cool, then the third goal was exquisite.
A long pass that cut across the back-pedalling Zimbabwe defence was met by Hotto, who expertly, with his left foot, turned the ball through Chigova’s legs.
Zimbabwe were then awarded a penalty eight minutes from time when defender Willem Mwedihanga handled inside the box and Manuvire sent the keeper the wrong way.
But Namibia hit back 120 seconds later to seal an emphatic win when Urikhob fired home after a swift counter attack.
Namibia XI: Virgil Vries, Denzil Haoseb, Willem Mwedihanga, Chris Katjiukua, Ananias Gebhardt, Peter Shalulile, Ronald Ketjijere, Petrus Shitembi, Deon Hotto, Itamunua Keimuine, Wangu Gome.
Zimbabwe XI: George Chigova, Thomas Magorimbo, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Partson Jaure, Danny Phiri, Pritchard Mpelele, Carlos Rusere, Ralf Kawondera, Ronald Chitiyo, Tatenda Mudehwe, Talent Chawapiwa.
Referee: Hamada Nampiandraza (Madagascar); 1st Asst: Petros Mbingo (Swaziland); 2nd Asst: Romeo Kasengele (Zambia); 4th Official: Duncan Lengani (Malawi).