It's game on: Pasuwa

HARARE - Young Warriors coach Calisto Pasuwa remains confident of his side’s progression to the African Under-23 Championships in Dakar, Senegal later this year despite being held by South Africa in the first leg here yesterday.

Although they played second fiddle to the South Africans for almost the entire match the Young Warriors still remain in with an outside chance after Walter Musona scored a penalty six minutes from full time to cancel out Keagan Dolly’s opener.

The exciting Mamelodi Sundowns winger Dolly, who was arguably one of the best players on the field, had opened the scoring for the visitors in the 66th minute with a wonderful solo effort.

Yesterday’s result means the Young Warriors now need to go and beat South Africa in their own backyard in two weeks’ time or at least force a draw of more than two goals.

“South Africa is our second home, it’s still game on, they have scored here and we can go and score also or even pull out a win there,” Pasuwa said after the game.

“We need the boys in time to have enough preparations. There are a lot of areas that we need to rectify. Things like movement, agility and power play are some of the things that we need to work on.

“If you noticed, some of our boys were chickening out. In terms of winning the ball in time is another issue, we were taking long to win back the ball.”

South Africa Under-23 coach Owen da Gama praised his charges for their impressive show.

“All credit must go to these boys, they played very well. There are some players that are clubless and we are coming from off season playing against a team with most players in the middle of their season,” da Gama said.

“I think it was value for money for the supporters, we showed them that we can play football. One thing I can say is when they come to South Africa we are going to treat them as professionals unlike the way we were treated here.

“They were banging on the doors, hitting the doors trying to intimidate us. I think that is not professional. But we always say when they come to South Africa we will treat them like professionals and we will go onto the field and the Almighty will decide who goes through.”    

The Young Warriors were a pale shadow of the side that has been steam rolling opponents in recent matches.

In truth, da Gama’s side should have scored at least three or more goals but some desperate defending from Zimbabwe’s Lawrence Mhlanga and Teenage Hadebe saved the day for the Young Warriors.

Goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva also made a number of telling saves to keep the home side in the game as South Africa threatened to overrun Zimbabwe.

Every time Dolly, Siphelele Ntshangase, Ayabulela Konqobe, Abbubaker Mobara and roving left back Siyabonga Zule had possession the Young Warriors’ defence was back peddling.

The Young Warriors barely got going as the visitors showed their intent, imposing themselves both in midfield and attack but decision-making in the final third proved to be their biggest let down.

Somehow, the South Africans must have felt there is no justice in football having done everything but failed to maximise on their dominance.

Pasuwa’s game plan was given a dent after striker Thomas Chideu was injured in the first half after suffering a rib injury.

The visitors finally managed to open the scoring after the break when Zimbabwe captain Wisdom Mutasa lost possession in his own half.

From there on, Dolly drove menacingly into the Young Warriors box leaving left back Pritchard Mpelele for dead before beating Mukuruva at the near post.

Zimbabwe finally managed to get level six minutes from time when fullback Blessing Moyo sent in a cross from the right which found Mgcini Sibanda inside the box.

Sibanda’s shot at goal was handled by South Africa captain Ishmael Mngonyama.

Zambian referee Stanley Hachiwa pointed to the spot and Musona sent the visitors’ goalkeeper Ricardo Goss the wrong way to salvage a draw for Zimbabwe.

The Young Warriors now need to put in a good performance in the second leg in South Africa in a fortnight to qualify for the African Under-23 Championships taking place from November 28 to December 15 this year.

The top three teams in Senegal will qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Teams:

Zimbabwe: Tatenda Mukuruva, Wisdom Mutasa (Knox Mutizwa 71 min), Blessing Moyo, Pritchard Mpelele, Lawrence Mhlanga, Teenage Hadebe, Gerald Takwara, Walter Musona, Nqobizitha Masuku, Thomas Chideu (Mgcini Sibanda 38 min), Kuda Mahachi (Carlos Rusere 69 min)

South Africa: Ricardo Goss, Ishmael Mngonyama, Tshepo Rikhotso, Zitha Macheke, Abbubaker Mobara, Siyabonga Zulu, Ayabulela, Siphelele Ntshangase, Siphiwe Khambule (Dumisani Zuma 58th min), Keagan Dolly, Maphosa Modiba

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