Ricky Zililo in MASERU, Lesotho
Lesotho 0-0 Zimbabwe
(Zimbabwe won 3-1 on aggregate)
DEFENDING a 3-1 first-leg win, the Warriors’ main priority was to ensure qualification for next year’s the Chan finals in Cameroon and they didn’t break a sweat to achieve that.
Zimbabwe, who have been regular features at the continental showpiece meant for locally-based players since the inception of the competition in 2009, put up a spirited show that left coach joey Antipas pleased.
“What we came for was a ticket to Chan and I’m happy we did it. We played a low tempo game, held back, didn’t go full throttle, but wanted to catch them on the counter,” said Antipas.
“We knew that Lesotho were going to come at us, which they did, but found our defence resolute. Credit to the boys for sticking to a good game plan and fighting all the way. The boys didn’t let pre-match mind games distract them and gave a good account.”
On the eve of the game, the hotel where the Warriors were staying held a gig which ended at 5AM, playing extremely loud music.
Antipas said now that the Warriors have qualified for the less glamourous continental showpiece, they will be going to compete.
“We aren’t going to make up numbers, but to compete and improve on past performances,” he said.
Zimbabwe has only missed the Chan finals once when they were held in Morocco last year.
Their best finish was fourth in 2014 when South Africa played host to the tournament solely reserved for players plying their trade in their countries’ domestic leagues.
Yesterday, Dynamos goalkeeper Simbarashe Chinani produced top drawer saves to deny the hosts at least three goals.
To qualify for the Chan finals, Lesotho needed to win at least 2-0, but Chinani stood in their path.
The young goalie first tipped a Lehlohonolo Fothoane chip for a corner in the 10th minute and dived to his right to punch Thabo Seakhoa’s long range drive in the 22nd minute.
In the second half, Chinani used his fingers to change the direction of the ball twice as it hit the upright in the 57th minute and 63rd minute.
Warriors’ midfielder Ralph Kawondera forced good saves from Lesotho goalie Ntsaone Lichaba in the 18th and 45th minutes.
Zimbabwe’s best chance fell to Wellington Taderera, who did injustice to a perfect McClive Phiri delivery in injury time. Phiri spotted the unmarked Taderera in the box, but the Black Rhinos forward headed off target.
While Antipas celebrated the feat, his Lesotho counterpart Thabo Senong was left dejected.
“I’m happy with the performance, but disappointed with the results. I think we did well to attack, but failed in the final third,” said Senong.
Lesotho: Ntsane Lichaba, Basia Makepe, Kopano Tseka (Rethabile Leratholi 67th min), Lisema Lebokollane, Mohau Rammoneng, Hlompo Kalake, Bokang Sello, Thabo Seakhoa (Phafa Tsosane 62nd min), Litsebe Marabe (Jane Thabantso 51st min), Lehlohonolo Fothoane, Mokone Marabe
Zimbabwe: Simbarashe Chinani, Ian Nekati, Xolani Ndlovu, Peter Muduhwa, Partson Jaure, Kelvin Madzongwe, McClive Phiri (Valentine Kadonzvo, 92nd min), Ralph Kawondera, Prince Dube, Joel Ngodzo (Welington Taderera, 71st min), Phenias Bamusi — @ZililoR