ZIMBABWE’S Young Warriors will have to wait for another year to add on to their record at the MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships after they went down to South Africa following a penalty shoot-out at Nkana Stadium, in Kitwe, Zambia.
The match had ended 1-1 in regulation time.
But it is the Young Warriors who returned to this year’s competition a better side, who had taken a 65th minute lead before fluffing a number of good opportunities, who should have wrapped up the game before regulation time.
Zimbabwe shot into the lead when tournament top scorer Delic Murimba intercepted a back pass by Nkosingiphile Ngcobo and chipped the ball over the goalkeeper Khulekani Kubheka.
The battling Amajita then found their way back via Lyle Foster, who spoiled the party for Zimbabwe, levelling the scores with just five minutes to go when he received the ball from Promise Mkhuma inside the box and his shot found the back of the net.
Earlier on in the 78th minute, coach Bekithemba Ndlovu was forced to substitute goalkeeper Tinotenda Ali due to an injury, bringing in Frank Kuchineyi.
Ali’s injury seemed to have had some psychological effect on his team.
Yet Murimba had the best chance to have the last say when he burst clear on goal, but sent his effort over right at the death.
Although they missed out on the championship, Ndlovu was pleased they managed to improve from last year’s performance when they failed to reach the knock-out stages.
“I think coming to us to Zimbabwe, we played very well. We competed very well.
“I can say well done to my boys for reaching the final and being beaten by South Africa, the champions last year, the champions again this year on penalties. I think it was a very good effort from my boys.
“Tough luck to my boys, but I think we achieved because what we wanted was to do better than last time. Last time we went out in the group stages, now we have been beaten by South Africa in the finals, I think it’s a big achievement from my boys.
“South Africa is not an easy team to play against, they are good. I think coming into this final, they were having three clean sheets, we were the first team to score against them, which shows also that we are a good team,” said Ndlovu.
South Africa’s coach Thabo Senong was happy with their victory and commended his side for a good show.
“Obviously (I am) very happy, well done to our boys.
“It’s an incredible victory because we were playing against a very tough side.
“We were tested physically, tactically and you can see that the Zimbabwe boys are well-drilled tactically, they were very competitive.
“You can see it’s a generational thing, this time they came with a very good team and obviously we gave away a goal, we made a mistake and time was against us and we needed to work harder, make tactical switches, try to be direct so that we can try to get an equaliser,” said Senong.
The victory saw South Africa retaining the title and extending their record in this tournament to seven.
Going into yesterday’s match, both teams had six titles each and were fighting it out for the seventh one. At the end of the day, it was South Africa who proved to be the better side after falling back in the 65th minute, they came back to grab the victory through penalties.
In the penalties, Amajita goalkeeper Kubheka made two crucial saves against Zimbabwe’s Clive Rupiya and Leonard Jani, while for South Africa Foster, who scored the equaliser, missed as he sent the ball into the stands.
Murimba was forced onto the bench during the penalty shoot-out due to an injury just before the final whistle.
The trio of captain Andrew Mbeba, Tatenda Tumba and Emmanuel Jalayi converted for Zimbabwe.
In the third and fourth play-off earlier at the same venue, Angola beat Zambia 2-1.
South Africa’s Mkhuma was voted player of the tournament, while his fellow teammate Foster shared the golden boot with Zimbabwe’s Murimba. They both had five goals.
Young Warriors’ goalkeeper Ali got the golden glove award and hosts Zambia won the Fair Play award.
South Africa: K. Kubheka, K. Abrahams, G. Khupe, G. Modise (M. Khunyedi 72nd minute), P. Mkhuma, N. Blom (T. Matthews 88th minute), N. Ngcobo, J. Monyane, L. Le Roux, S. Mkhize, L. Foster.
Zimbabwe: T. Ali (F. Kuchineyi 78th minute), E. Jalai, B. Mpofu, S. Nyahwa, L. Jani, T. Tumba, D. Mhindirira, D. Murimba, C. Rupiya, B. Nyamuzihwa (K. Ndebele 66th minute (T. Muringani 88th minute), A. Mbeba.
source: the herald