The Warriors played an attractive short passing game characterised by methodical build ups from the defence and goals from the Ajax Cape Town pair of Willard Katsande, and Khama Billiart secured victory, a confidence booster for the Warriors ahead of their September 4 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Liberia.
In fact, the low score line on the part of Zimbabwe does not give a true reflection of the match. Driven on from the midfield by Ajax Cape Town’s Willard Katsande, the Zimbabweans were so dominant that they could have come up with a bagful of goals had they utilised all the scoring opportunities that came their way.
The absence of Knowledge Musona was easily felt as his replacement, Edward Sadomba, failed to convert the too many chances that were created by the mobile midfield, and had to be substituted to pave way for reigning soccer star of the year, Charles Sibanda, deep into the second half.
Katsande, was a ball of fire, igniting attacks whenever in possession, and capped a five star performance with a gem of a goal that gave Zimbabwe the opener in the 45th minute. He finished off Sadomba’s through ball firing it past the equally outstanding Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mwene.
For the record. The same Zambian goalkeeper 10 years ago was at Rufaro Stadium where he won the player of the tournament, finished as the top goal scorer , and won the top goalkeeper award in a three country Coca Cola Schools Soccer tournament involving Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
During that secondary schools tournament, Mwene played as a striker in two games and was in goal in the final, but Wednesday evening he could not stop Katsande’s 45th minute effort, and Billiart’s 47th minute strike which sent Zimbabwean fans celebrating.
Coach Norman Mapeza made five changes from the first 11 team that beat Mali, bringing in Edward Sadomba, Willard Katsande, Quincy Antipas, Daniel Vheremu, and Tapuwa Khumbuyani, who were all on the bench on that June 5 encounter against the Eagles of Mali.
Mapeza also had the luxury of using all his players including even substituting goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini for Washington Arubi when he realised that victory had been guaranteed.
While the confident Zimbabweans now await Liberia, the Zambians, who lead their Nations Cup group, will on their part, travel to play the Comoros. A win for the Chipolopolo in the Comoros is most likely to secure them a place at the 2012 finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea while the Warriors will have to wait until their last game against Cape Verde in October.