ZIMBABWE will go into today’s Cosafa Castle Cup semi-final against Lesotho at Moruleng Stadium looking for an early goal to spur them on as they continue their march towards an unprecedented fifth title.
According to Warriors’ assistant coach Bongani Mafu, they will be looking at wrapping up the match inside 90 minutes.
The boys resumed training yesterday after being given a day’s rest on Monday after playing four games inside a week and the technical bench decided to let the boys rest and recover as they focused on the last 90 minutes before the final.
They face a fresh Lesotho side, which has played just a single match so far in the tournament in which they booted out 2015 champions Namibia 5-4 on penalties after the two sides were tied 0-0 in regulation time.
Zimbabwe know that Likuena will try to tire them before trying to go for the kill as the game progresses.However, the Warriors are fully aware of that possible tactical approach by the 2000 Cosafa Cup finalists, hence the push for an early goal.
The Warriors have beaten Lesotho five times in the previous six meetings in the tournament.“We need an early goal if possible considering that we are the team that is coming out from lots of matches, while they are still fresh. So most probably they will look to wait for us to tire, but we believe that if we get our goals, we won’t tire, but instead we will be motivated to keep going,” said Mafu after yesterday’s training session.
The former Highlanders’ coach said while they were not looking at the game proceeding beyond 90 minutes, they had made contingency plans for the dreaded shootouts in the unlikely event that they have to be separated by the penalty lottery.
“It will be nice to wrap up the game in 90 minutes. We, however, got people ready to take up penalties and goalkeepers ready to save if that unwanted scenario happens, but we are not looking forward to penalty shootouts to be honest with you. We want to wrap up our game in regulation time,” said Mafu.
The Warriors have been the most lethal side in the tournament, scoring 12 goals in four matches, while their backline has been penetrated just once, conceding after 318 minutes of football when rare poor marking by the central defence allowed Swaziland’s Felix Badenhorst to level the score line in the 48th minute mark during the quarter-final clash on Sunday night at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.
Mafu described the mood in camp as magnificent and said the boys are more than ready to die for their country and write their own piece of history. Co-skipper Ovidy Karuru has already written his own piece by scoring the most goals in a single tournament in the regional competition’s 20-year history with six goals to his credit.
The 28-year-old, who was part of the Warriors’ 2008 Cosafa Castle Cup squad that lost 4-5 to Zambia in a penalty shootout here in South Africa, shot into the cup’s all-time single tournament’s leading scorers’ charts with his 17th minute goal against Swaziland in the quarter-finals at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Sunday night.
He has now scored one more goal than previous joint leaders, Sarivahy Vombola (2015) of Madagascar and Swaziland’s Felix Badenhorst (2016), and two more than his countryman Cuthbert Malajila, who scored four goals when Zimbabwe won the tournament in 2009.
The legendary Peter Ndlovu scored three goals in 2003 and the same number in the 2004 tournament