ZIMBABWE are on the verge of winning a record fifth Cosafa Castle Cup after the Warriors beat Lesotho in a seven-goal thriller at the Moruleng Stadium, in South Africa, last night to book a ticket to Sunday’s final.
ZIMBABWE . . . . . . . (1) 4
LESOTHO . . . . . . . .(1) 3
BY HENRY MHARA IN MORULENG, SOUTH AFRICA
Knox Mutizwa netted a hat trick to take his tally for this tournament to four goals, while Talent Chawapiwa recorded his name on the score sheet for the first time.
Lesotho got their three goals from Samuel Ketsekile, Mabuti Potloane and Tsoanelo Koetle, who converted from the penalty spot late on.
Warriors coach, Sunday Chidzambwa was elated that his side qualified for the final, but this was tempered by conceding three goals, which was unlike any of his prosaic teams, whose focus is on defence.
“Our players were a bit complacent allowing Lesotho to play the ball and we were a bit lucky in the sense that we managed to score an early goal,” he said.
“We talked to the players at half-time and we came back and we scored. But then we went to sleep and they scored.
“Going forward, we need to work on the defence if we are to come with a good result in the final. It’s going to be a tough match against Zambia. They have played just two matches and we have played five so they will be fresh. We will need to work hard if we are to win the Cosafa Cup.”
The veteran coach made four changes to the team that beat Swaziland in the quarter-finals, Takabva Mawaya a surprise pick in goals ahead of George Chogova, while Raphael Manuvire made way for Innocent Mucheneka.
Talent Chawapiwa reclaimed his jersey from Mitchelle Katsvairo, who struggled in the last match, while Mutizwa, who scored the winner against Swaziland, was rewarded with a start, at the expense of Prince Dube.
Lesotho were seeking their first-ever victory over Zimbabwe in the Cosafa Cup after losing five and drawing one of the previous meetings in the competition since their first encounter in 1998, and they made their intentions clear of reversing this trend from the onset.
Zimbabwe slowly came into the match and skipper, Ovidy Karuru and Chawapiwa went close.
A Mucheneka corner kick was flicked on to Mutizwa, who knocked the ball into the net with his knee on 18 minutes, for his second goal of the tournament.
Lesotho looked a little rattled by the goal and their reaction was to introduce Samuel Ketsekile for Thapelo Tale, on the half hour mark, as they sought to neutralise Chidzambwa’s men, who were on top of the situation.
Jimmy Tigere then cleared off the line after a melee in the Zimbabwe box from a corner kick, as the Warriors seemed jittery when defending set pieces, and when another free-kick was poorly dealt with, Ketsekile capitalised, firing in the loose ball.
Five minutes after the break, the Warriors restored their lead.
Chawapiwa and substitute, Raphael Manuvire exchanged passes before the latter threaded the ball behind the Lesotho defence for an easy finish for Mutizwa.
On 63 minutes, Chawapiwa thought he had put the game beyond doubt when he outpaced a defender after a poor back pass to run clear before hitting the roof of the net.
The Crocs were there for the taking, and the Warriors continued to take the game to them, creating the better chances, which they somehow missed.