WINDHOEK, 06 APR – The Mighty Warriors of Zimbabwe sank their Namibian counterparts, the Brave Gladiators 0-2 in Windhoek Thursday night to move one step closer to the next round of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) qualifiers.
The first round, first leg of the 2018 CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, was played at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura.
In a match that saw a handful of supporters cheering on the players, the visitors dominated play, taking only 22 minutes to open the scoring.
Gladiators goalkeeper Melisa Matheus was left with no choice as a strike from outside the box by Marjory Nyaumwe was too hard for her to save.
With Zimbabwe in the lead, the Namibians stepped it up a notch with Spain-based striker Zenatha Coleman bringing her A game to her beloved Gladiators, but to her disappointment she was a level above her fellow players, who could not match her standards.
Coleman created two scoring chances from free kicks in the 33rd and 36th minutes, but her efforts went to waste as her teammates could not capitalise on it.
The half-time score was 0-1 for the visitors.
In the second half, the Warriors came out the stronger outfit, dominating play in all positions. Substitute Mavis Chirandu’s combination with Nyaumwe was too hard for the Namibian players to handle.
After being on the back foot for most of the second half, the Namibian team rang in the changes as they took out Anna Shikusho for Lorraine Jossob, who found the going tough.
With only two minutes to go in the game, brilliant play by Nyaumwe and Chirandu on the counter-attack saw the Warriors adding another goal to the score card. Super substitute Chirandu found the back of the net.
Speaking to the media after the game, Brave Gladiators coach Brian Isaacs said his team found the going tough due to a lack of match fitness, but they are looking forward to the return leg over the weekend.
“Zimbabwe was the better team and they were better prepared then us. Our game plan did not work out as we had planned but we plan to have a better game plan than we did today when we face them again,” he said.
The Brave Gladiators, whose only participation in the continental women’s football showpiece was in 2014 when they hosted it, will fly to Zimbabwe Friday morning to prepare for their return leg in Harare on Sunday.
The winner of the two legs will advance to the second round, where either Tanzania or Zambia awaits them.