We can still qualify, says Musona

HARARE - Young Warriors striker Walter Musona says Zimbabwe can still qualify for African Under-23 Championships despite Sunday’s first leg 1-1 draw against South Africa at Rufaro Stadium.

Zimbabwe played second fiddle to Owen da Gama’s side but still managed to rescue a draw after Musona scored from the spot six minutes from fulltime.

The visitors had taken the lead through Keagan Dolly’s 66th minute strike before going on to create more scoring opportunities which they failed to utilise.

Zimbabwe to their credit, dug deep to weather the visitors’ storm and were eventually rewarded when South Africa captain Ishmael Mngonyama handled inside the box.

Musona kept his composure and was able to send goalkeeper Ricardo Goos the wrong way to equalise for the Young Warriors.

Sunday’s result means Zimbabwe remain in the encounter and can still qualify for the tournament to be held in Senegal at the end of the year.

Calisto Pasuwa’s charges need to win or draw with a 2-2 score or higher to qualify for the final tournament.

A 1-1 scoreline in South Africa will result in the tie being decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Musona admitted they had been outclassed by the South Africans but still believes they can still cause an upset in the second leg.

“I think we tried our best although it was not enough to warrant us a win. They played better than us.

“They were quicker than us and I think that’s one area we need to work on. The good thing is we did not lose.

“We can go there and win. I am optimistic because we have the potential to do well. I think we need to have more possession than we had here,” said Musona.

The Aces Youth Soccer Academy graduate, who only arrived in the country on Wednesday together with captain Wisdom Mutasa from Slovakia, says they will play to win in the second leg in two weeks’ time.

“I expect a defensive game from them but I don’t think they can afford to risk by just closing down. We will go out on the pitch with the mentality we always have — to win. I believe if we display the fighting spirit and determination we can progress,” he said.

Musona feels the Young Warriors need more time to prepare for such crucial matches after they held camp for only four days before Sunday’s match.

On the other hand, da Gama and his team spent a full two weeks while preparing.

“There is need for enough preparations. It is not a secret that South Africa are difficult opponents. It then calls for good preparations if we are to beat them,” he said.

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