Mighty Warriors edge Zambia

HARARE - The Mighty Warriors temporarily put aside their welfare problems to grind out a slender 1-0 victory over neighbours Zambia in the African Women Cup of Nations final qualifier first leg here yesterday.

Striker Kudakwashe Basopo’s solitary strike in the first minute of added time before the end of the first half ensured Shadreck Mlauzi’s ladies will have a slender lead to protect in the second leg in Lusaka at the weekend.

The Mighty Warriors now only need to avoid defeat in the second leg to qualify for the finals to be held in Cameroon at the end of the year.

Mlauzi believes the Mighty Warriors, who have already qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, have a tough task of protecting their lead in the second leg.

“We are a good side, especially our defence; we rarely concede so going away is going to be a different game all together and what’s important is that we go buoyed by this lead,” Mlauzi said after the match.

“What we wanted to avoid is a scenario where we conceded an away goal. . . we are happy we didn’t concede so on our side we can say its plus.

“We are still going to search for a goal and hopefully consolidate on what we have got today (yesterday). International football is never easy; they (Zambia) gave us a different challenge compared to Tanzania.

“They are predominantly a physical side playing direct football and we will be able to deal with that going forward.”

Shepolopolo coach Albert Kachinga said it will be sad if his team fail to qualify for the continental showcase as they will now have to bank on home advantage to turn around the tie.

“We can’t let Zimbabwe go to the Africa Cup and then let them go to the Olympics, we can’t let them do that,” Kachinga said.

Zimbabwe started the match on the offensive with left-back Sheila Makoto causing problems for the Zambians every occasion she ventured forward.

Mighty Warriors skipper Felistas Muzongondi was the weaker link in the side as she kept on losing possession in promising situations which frustrated the home fans.

Despite their dominance of possession, the Mighty Warriors were not clinical in front of goal but that all changed on the stroke of halftime.

Basopo found space in the middle of the park before charging towards goal.

The Black Rhinos forward raised her head before lobbing outdrawn Shepolopolo goalkeeper Hazel Nali.

In the second half, the Mighty Warriors threw everything at the visitors as they searched for a second goal but the Zambians held resolute.

Zimbabwe came close to increasing their lead when Marjory Nyaumwe’s ferocious shot was parried back into play by Nali but midfielder Emmaculate Msipa could not connect from the rebound.

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