Warriors through to Cosafa semis

Source: Warriors through to Cosafa semis –Newsday Zimbabwe

Michael Tapera scored a brilliant solo goal to give the Warriors a 7th minute lead, his second of the tournament in as many matches. Zambia’s hopes of a comeback evaporated when defender Killan Kanguluma was given his marching order for a dangerous challenge on Takunda Benhura in the 33rd minute.

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ZIMBABWE progressed to the semifinals of the Cosafa Cup following a win over 10-man Zambia in a Group B clash at Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa yesterday.

Michael Tapera scored a brilliant solo goal to give the Warriors a 7th minute lead, his second of the tournament in as many matches. Zambia’s hopes of a comeback evaporated when defender Killan Kanguluma was given his marching order for a dangerous challenge on Takunda Benhura in the 33rd minute.

Luckily, the Ngezi Platinum Stars striker was not hurt and he ensured Zimbabwe’s progress to the next round with a bullet header off a good Farai Banda cross in the 43rd minute.

The victory took Zimbabwe to six points, enough to book a semifinals ticket as the best runner-up.

The Warriors, who were brilliant throughout the match yesterday, can still finish as group leaders if they can avoid a defeat against Kenya in their last pool match tomorrow.

Only the top team in each of the three pools and the best placed runner-up advance to the semifinals.

Other group B members Kenya and Comoros have three points each.

Defeat sent defending champions Zambia out of the tournament as Chipolopolo has zero points from two matches.

Warriors coach Jairosi Tapera, who yesterday handed a Warriors debut to Sheffield Wednesday star Joey Phuti, was happy with his team’s performance and dedicated the win to former Warriors striker Norman Maroto, who died on Friday in Harare.

A moment of silence was observed before kick-off for the former Dynamos, Gunners and Motor Action star who will be buried in Guruve today.

“We really wanted it more and the boys were so much prepared to work for the win. They did exactly that,” Tapera said. We were so organised defensively that Zambia could not get any spaces to utilise. We planned to get an early goal which is exactly what we got. It unsettled the opponent, they became desperate and in the process, we got a second goal which sealed the match. I am very happy with this boys performance. They are doing us proud.”

“Maroto was a media officer for the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe, so he interacted with these boys regularly. He was so close to these boys than anyone else here. So that could have helped to motivate the boys to do well for him.”

Zambia coach Chisi Mbewe said: “A very disappointing result for us. It was a disappointing situation that we allowed an early goal and we never recovered from that. We also got a red card which put the team under pressure and disturbed our game plan.”

Midfielder Richard Hachiro was named the Man of the Match.

Warriors team: R Pitisi, G Murwira, M Hativagoni, E Jalai, F Banda, R Hachiro, M Mushore (I Mauchi, 90+2′), M Tapera ( Mapuwa, 62′), J Mutudza (T Tavengwa, 62′), T Meke (J Phuthi, 75′), T Benhura (N Rauzhi, 75′).

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