Young Warriors sail through

TONDERAI Ndiraya’s second half substitutions proved crucial as the Young Warriors left it late to dispatch Mozambique and progress to the last qualifying round of the 2019 Africa Nations Cup (Afcon) U23 qualifiers.

With the match appearing headed for a goalless draw, substitute Obriel Chirinda put Zimbabwe ahead six minutes from full time when his shot from the edge of the box took a deflection to beat Mozambique goalkeeper Alcino Victor.

Another substitute Delic Murimba secured the victory for the Young Warriors in time added on with an easy finish after getting to the an end of Anelka Chivandire’s pass. Chivandire, who was also introduced in the second half, made a solo run as he subtracted a number of defenders before teeing up Murimba.

The first leg had ended goalless in Maputo at the weekend meaning Zimbabwe now progress to the final qualifying round where they are likely to meet South Africa.

Amajita beat Angola 1-3 in the first leg in Luanda at the weekend and the two teams were scheduled to meet in the second leg last night in Milpark. However, despite the win Ndiraya was the first to admit that his charges did not get it on a silver platter.

“Firstly, I want to admit that we didn’t have it easy today. It was a very difficult match for us. We had a very difficult match in Maputo, we knew these guys are very strong, good team so we had a plan,” Ndiraya said. “I think they controlled first half, we had to let them do that. I thought our boys struggled with the basics but we came back changed in the second half especially after the introduction of the three substitutes —  Chivandire, Chirinda and Murimba.

“When we introduced them, they changed the complexion of the game and we got the result we wanted. It was a difficult match but I think at the end of the day, we are all happy to have gone through to the next round.

“And I must say work has started now. It’s not going to be easy for us but I’m quite confident that by the time we play probably South Africa, our boys would have raised their fitness levels.”
In truth, the Young Warriors never really looked like they would score as they took a while to get going and their inability to create in the final third almost backfired as Mozambique almost stole the game with some good build-ups. 

It was Germany-based midfielder Seth Patrick and Harare City’s Tatenda Tavengwa, who caught the eye with assured performances, combing well in the middle of the park to dictate things for the home side.

The 2019 Afcon U23 finals are scheduled for Egypt in November with eight teams taking part including the hosts.
Zimbabwe will be hoping to make it to the final tournament, which is also serving as the 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers. The top three from the finals in Egypt will represent the continent in Tokyo

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