Mighty Warriors qualify for Women's Nations Cup

HARARE - The Mighty warriors sealed their passage to the 2016 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations with another stunning win over Zambia at the Nkoloma Stadium in the final qualifier yesterday.

Zimbabwe will be among the eight teams taking part at the finals to be held in Cameroon at the end the year.

MIGHTY WARRIOR: Zimbabwe forward Emmaculate Msipa, left, makes her way past Zambia’s Barbra Banda during yesterday’s match at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka.

Mighty Warriors coach Shadreck Mlauzi said was happy that his team qualified for both Olympics and Women’s Afcon finals.

“I’m very happy with the result, especially that we have made it for the Olympics and now for the AWC. It was a 50-50 game but what matters is that we have won and qualified for the competition,” he said.

Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa was elated with the Mighty Warriors achievement and urged the entire nation to rally behind the team.

“Every Zimbabwean must come to the airport to give the girls a heroines’ welcome when they land aboard the Emirates flight on Monday (today) afternoon,” he said.

“I will host a dinner for the team shortly after they arrive; we are in celebration and our neighbours Zambia are in mourning.”  

The Mighty Warriors last qualified for Women’s Afcon finals in 2004 when they ended their campaign in the group stages in South Africa.

Yesterday’s result means 2016 will be a busy year for Shadreck Mlauzi’s ladies as they have also qualified for the Rio Olympic Games to be held in August.

After having won the first leg 1-0 last Wednesday courtesy of Kudakwashe Basopo’s solitary strike, the Mighty warriors began the second leg in fine fashion.

Once again, it was Basopo who stunned the home crowd when she opened the scoring just after five minutes after pouncing onto a rebound when Samkelisiwe Zulu shot had came off the post.

After going behind, Shepolopolo emerged from their shell and Grace Chanda should have levelled the scores when she failed to connect with a cross from Misozi Zulu in the 19th minute.

However, Noria Sosala showed her teammates how it is done after unleashing a cracker to level matters. Sosala connected with a Barbara Banda pass inside the box and made no mistake to beat Mighty Warriors goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai.

After doing their best to level scores, Shepolopolo went to sleep allowing Zimbabwe to regain the lead in the 34th minute through Samkelisiwe Zulu who pounced on a Martha Tembo poor clearance.

The second half started on a fast note with Zambia in a hurry to score goals to win the match and were duly rewarded a penalty after Zimbabwe defender Lynett Mutokuto handled inside the box.

Referee Nasikko Ssemambo pointed to the spot and Misozi Zulu confidently stepped forward and converted to tie the score at 2-all but Zimbabwe still enjoying the 3-2 aggregate advantage.

Sosala powerful free-kick forced a save out of Dzingirai who tipped the ball behind the net for a corner as Zambia piled pressure needing two more goals to secure qualification.

But it was the visitors who scored to shut Zambia’s hopes of any comeback in the 89th minute through Emmaculate Msipa who finished a goal mouth melee as the home side defenders struggled to clear their lines.

Shepolopolo coach Albert Kachinga expressed disappointment for failing to qualify for the finals.

“I am disappointed that we have failed to qualify to the championship, we have to go back to the basics and start afresh for the next tournament,” he said.

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