6 October 2017

Namibia: 'Tired' Coleman Stars for Gintra

NAMIBIAN international Zenatha Coleman overcame jet-lag to earn Gintra-Universitetas a 1-1 draw when she scored against FC Zurich in a first-leg round of 32 Uefa Women's Champions League match on Wednesday.

Under the cosh for long spells in the match, Coleman's 23rd minute equaliser was a welcome positive for the Lithuanian champions, who will need to score away from home and keep the formidable Zurich at bay if they are to reach the last-16 for only the second time in their history.

The return leg takes place on 11 October in Zurich, Switzerland.

"We really have a good chance to make it through to last 16, so that's our target now," Coleman told The Namibian Sport of the club's ambition.

"The game was 50/50 I think. We had just as many chances as they had, so now it's all down to the second match next week. [We are] hoping to go get a win. The weather was pretty terrible. It made it tough."

Coleman said she felt jaded after almost missing the match due to flight complications when returning from Namibia to Lithuania.

"I'm really tired. The flights were delayed and some cancelled, so it was hell. I only arrived here Tuesday morning. I had a training session with the team after two weeks absence with the Brave Gladiators at [the Women's] Cosafa [Championship] and then played the whole match in the Champions League yesterday [Wednesday]," she narrated.

Nonetheless, she was delighted with her contribution to the team's cause.

"It feels great to start off by scoring. It will boost my confidence for the next game, so I'm very happy."

According to Gintra's website, fans packed the Šiauliai Central Stadium, and "witnessed a beautiful and gigantic match".

As expected, the Swiss began the match on the front foot and controlled the first 15 minutes, without really creating much in the way of goal attempts.

But that changed in the 18th minute when Zurich forward Martina Moser rounded off a flowing team move after escaping her marker Gretto Kaselytė to net the opener.

The goal sparked the Lithuanian champions into life as they took just five minutes to level the score after Lucy Vaitukaitytė split the visitors' central defence open with an excellent pass to send Coleman racing through on goal.

Coleman, who was signed last year to help Gintra beef up their strike force and make headway in Europe, took one touch to set herself in position before poking the ball under the onrushing keeper, and wheeled away in sheer delight.

The Brave Gladiators' star player had one more opportunity to put Gintra ahead before half-time, but saw her rasping shot charged down by a sprawling defender.

Shortly afterwards, the lively Moser saw her effort cannon off the woodwork as the teams went into the break level peggings.

After the break, the rain somewhat stifled proceedings, but did not prevent the teams from displaying high-quality football.

The Swiss champions had an ideal opportunity to retake the lead in the 67th minute when Lyubov Gudchenko (Gintra) conceded a penalty for a foul on Fabienne Humm, but Moser failed with the spot kick.

The remainder of the match saw both teams push for a winner, but the defences stood firm, with the result that Zurich carry an away goal advantage into the second leg.

Zurich, who have been to the last 16 stage thrice, had 20 attempts at goal, ten of them on target, but ultimately failed to turn their dominance into goals.

The scoreline gives Gintra, who only had three of seven attempts at goal on target, confidence that they could cause an upset and snatch victory in the return match.

Gintra's best performance in the competition came in 2015 when reaching the round of 16. They made it through the qualifying round for only the second time then in 13 attempts, but beat Sparta Praha on penalties in their only previous knockout run before losing to Brøndby, whom they defeated 2-0 in the second leg.

Wednesday's full results - Chelsea 1-0 Bayern München; Atlético Madrid 0-3 Wolfsburg; Medyk Konin 0-5 Lyon; Avaldsnes 0-4 Barcelona; Fiorentina 2-1 Fortuna Hjørring; Montpellier 0-1 Zvezda; LSK Kvinner 0-0 Brøndby; Ajax 1-0 Brescia; St. Pölten 0-3 Manchester City; Apollon 0-1 Linköping; BIIK-Kazygurt 3-0 Glasgow City; Gintra Universitetas 1-1 FC Zürich; Minsk 1-3 Slavia Praha; and PAOK 0-5 Sparta Praha.

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