ZIMBABWE’S Young Warriors got off to a flying start in their campaign at the ongoing MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships in Zambia when they dismissed Botswana 2-1 yesterday at Nkana Stadium in Kitwe, Zambia.
A brace by Delic Murimba was enough to guarantee Zimbabwe a victory in their opening encounter in Group C.
In what was reportedly a scrappy affair, Mulimba found the target in the opening minute and assured his team of maximum points when he struck against in the 72nd minute.
Resaobaka Thatanyane had brought the Young Zebras level a minute before the break.
Zimbabwe Under-20 coach Bhekithemba Ndlovu described the victory as a confidence booster in their bid to go beyond the group stage.
“I think the boys played very well and scoring two goals in just one game, I think it’s an improvement from us because I think in the last tournament we scored only one goal in three games.
“So now we have got two goals in one game, which is an improvement and it was important for us to win our first game.
“But it was not easy. Botswana has a very good strong team, they have got talent in their team and they made it difficult for us . . . yes we won 2-1, but it was very difficult.
“Going forward, I think it’s a boost to us. It will give the boys confidence going to the next game. They have won this one, the next one also they believe that we are winning. That winning mentality I think it’s there in them now, so our next game we would like to win it again,” said Ndlovu.
Murimba was voted man of the match for his outstanding performance.
The Young Warriors lead their group with a two-point advantage after Lesotho and Angola drew 1-1 in their games on Sunday.
The Triangle forward was, however, substituted in the 77th minute due to an injury. He was replaced by Tatenda Muringani.
“He was substituted through a head injury. He was feeling pain on the head, but the doctors are still looking at him, they are still checking it out. So I will hear from the doctors just now,” Ndlovu told a post-match media conference.
Zimbabwe will now face Lesotho tomorrow at Shinde Stadium and conclude their group games against Angola on Sunday.
Botswana coach Rapelang Tsatsilebe conceded defeat and said given the circumstances around their build-up to the tournament, his charges had given a good account of themselves.
“We played a very strong team and we did our part. We participated well, we applied ourselves in this game. We are playing an experienced team like Zimbabwe, the ones that have won the championship six times.
“We have never won the championship, so the pressure was on them because they are the six-time champions of COSAFA.
“But I can say we did well with my boys because we played very well, it’s what I wanted to see because we just assembled this team from scratch.
“We had a week of preparation coming here, we never had a camp and for them to play like this it’s a good display to them.
“I am happy and our counterparts from Zimbabwe gave us a good game. They have got a good team and we competed with them. I can’t complain about the results,” he said
Botswana clash with Angola in their next encounter on Thursday.
But it is the Young Warriors who remain under the spotlight after two poor showings in as many previous editions of the regional tourney.