Zimbabwe lose in Coca-Cola Africa final

The Sunday Mail

Don Makanyanga

THE Zimbabwe’s Under-16 football team’s impressive run at the Copa Coca-Cola Africa Cup came to screeching halt when they suffered a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Tanzania at Thika stadium.

Zimbabwe booked a place in the finals stage after beating hosts and defending champions Kenya by 3-1 in the opening match of Group A on Monday, before booking a place in the quarter finals when they prevailed 4-2 over Mozambique on the same day.

Having finished as Group A log leaders, the Zimbabwe team booked a quarter final berth with Namibia whom they beat 4-1 to set up the Battle of the Zambezi with Zambia in the semi-finals.

The two Southern Africa neighbors played to a two all-draw in regulation time setting a stage for the grueling penalty shoot-out.

Zimbabwe goal-minder Ronald Uraya then emerged the hero of the Battle of Zambezi after he leveled scores for Zimbabwe two minutes before time from the spot-kick and went on to save two penalties in the dreaded penalty shoot-out to ensure that Zimbabwe played in the final against Tanzania.

Their dream of securing the Coca-Cola Africa Cup trophy were then dashed as Tanzania were crowned The Coca-Cola Africa Cup Champions.

Enesio Perezo had put Zimbabwe upfront early into the match, before the East African side began to run riot, scoring five goals in the first half.

The resumption of the second half saw Zimbabwe pull one back, from the spot, through Uraya before hopes for comeback were dented a few minutes later as Tanzania scored their sixth goal of the afternoon.

Despite the loss Zimbabwe had something to smile about as Luke Musikiri – who was in splendid form throughout tournament, and found the back of the net on six occasions – was named Player of the Tournament.

Last year Zimbabwe was knocked-out of the tournament in the group stages.