To Face Ethiopia in the next Round.
By Muziwethu Hadebe
@ Babourfields stadium, Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe 1-0 Malawi (Talent Bizeki 73’)
Zimbabwe won 2-1 on aggregate
Zimbabwe Striker Talent Bizeki, scrambled a pass from fellow forward Dinah Rose Banda in the 73rd minute into the back of the net as the Zimbabwe Women’s U20 national soccer team edged Malawi out of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup qualifiers in this preliminary round, second leg tie before a decent crowd at Babourfields.
Banda who is the daughter of former Eagles and Highlanders left winger Tanny Banda used his body well to squeeze past the strong Malawi defence and found Bizeki whose weak shot seemed to take a deflection off the legs of Malawi right back Jessie Yosepe before rolling into the nets, much to the excitement of the crowd.
Until then Malawi who maintained their shape well were having the better of the Young Mighty Warriors, knowing a goal would work in their favour, while a goalless draw was still in favour of Zimbabwe.
They had three chances falling to their captain Faith Chezhara in the 9th and 10th minute with Zimbabwe goalkeeper and Captain Cynthia Shonga producing good saves. In the 27th minute Chezhara managed to beat Shonga well on the ground but saw her shot going wide as Zimbabwe survived.
With the match two minutes away from full time and Malawi fully aware an equalizer will force the match into a penalty shoot-out, Chezhara who was giving the Zimbabwe defence a torrid time managed to break loose again but this time her fine chip just went over the bar.
Besides a strong Malawi second half performance, Zimbabwe had plenty chances to win the match especially in the first half where the Malawi goalkeeper Ruth Mhango worked over time to deny the Zimbabwe forwards.
Thrice she denied Banda, in one of the saves producing a double save having earlier stooped a Shylin Dambamuromo shot and then a Banda follow up in the 15th minute.
Mhango also stopped a Valerie Packry fine strike after Banda had swept past the Malawi defence as the talented Banda reminded fans of her brother’s skills (Toto Banda) in the 39th minute while Bizeki saw her grounder cleared from the line with the half time whistle three minutes away.
Bizeki who missed lots of opportunities, although must be praised for always positioning herself well missed a glorious chance in the 58th minute as her initial shot was saved by the keeper and skied her second effort over the bar in the box for the second ball.
Zimbabwe coach Rosemary Mugadza felt it was a tough match but was happy that the Young Mighty Warriors progressed, while her Malawi counterpart seemed to suggest that the Zimbabwe goal should not have stood as there was an infringement before the goal.
Zimbabwe will now meet Ethiopia in the next round. They will then clash with the winner of the match between South Africa and Botswana in the second round, before facing Ghana if they are to go to the world cup.
Woman of the match, Joint award for the two goalkeepers Cynthia Shonga (good saves and amazing ball distribution) and Ruth Mhango (good saves).
Zimbabwe Cynthia Shonga 9/10, Sharon Teterai 5/10, Pationa Myamugure 7/10, Precious Baison 5/10, Moreblessing Bwende 6/10, Faith Chezhara 6/10, Valerie Packray 7/10, Tinotenda Sakara 4/10, Shylin Dambamuromo 7/10, Dinah Rose Banda 8/10, Talent Bizeki 8/10
Crowd 8/10, good support.