17 September 2018

Namibia: Goal-Shy Gladiators Chase Elusive Win

The Brave Gladiators intend to end their 2018 Cosafa Women's Championship campaign with an avalanche of goals and victory over Swaziland in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on Monday.

Namibia's semi-final hopes unravelled on Saturday following a goalless stalemate against East African guest nation Uganda, who meet Group C leaders Zimbabwe to decide who tops the standings and get a 'kind' last-four draw.

Zimbabwe's 3-0 win over bottom side Swaziland on Friday left the Gladiators, who went down 1-0 to the Zimbabwean Mighty Warriors in their opener a day earlier, needing nothing less than a win over Uganda, who edged the Swazis 4-3 in their first clash on Thursday.

Namibian head coach Brian Isaacs lamented his youthful side's profligacy in front of goal, but praised their overall application against another tough opponent.

In fact, both sides created several goalscoring opportunities, but failed to capitalise on them.

"We wasted an opportunity to increase our chances of making it through to the next round today. We should have done much better. The performance was satisfactory, but not ideal. We could have won this game," a despondent Isaacs said.

Zimbabwe need only a draw to advance, but Uganda will overtake them with a win, while Namibia and Swaziland play for pride.

Nonetheless, the 50-year-old wily mentor called on the Brave Gladiators, for whom captain and defensive rock Emma Naris won a second successive player of the match award in as many outings, to shrug off the disappointment of once again falling at the first hurdle by ending their goal drought against the Swazis at the Westbourne Oval.

Despite the setback, Isaacs firmly believes in his side, and that they have shown enough to suggest they will give fans back home something to cheer about on Monday.

"I'm still confident we can win our final game on Monday, and when we go out, we bow out with something to take home," he stated.

Meanwhile, Zambia claimed pole position in Group B after a 1-0 victory over Central African guest nation Cameroon.

Lushomo Mweemba scored the only goal of the game with an excellent free kick, with the match something of a stop-start affair with a high number of injuries.

It means Zambia have six points from their two games so far, and need just a point in their final game against Mozambique on Tuesday to secure top spot and advance to the semifinals.

Cameroon will believe they can also qualify as the best second-place finisher, especially with their healthy goal difference built up in an 8-1 success over the Mozambicans in their opener.

Zambia and Cameroon have already qualified for the African Women's Championship in Ghana in November, so this match gave them plenty of insight into the quality of that field.

Mozambique kept their slim semi-final hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over Lesotho in the opening game of the day.

The first half ended goalless, though Cidalia Cuta missed an excellent chance to score when she found herself one-on-one with Lesotho goalkeeper Thuto Maifo.

But Cuta grabbed her second goal of the championships when she netted early in the second half, although Lesotho found an equaliser when Litseoana Maloro scored on the hour-mark.

The points were decided on 72 minutes, though, as player of the match Lucia Moçambique netted from a direct free kick for an excellent winner.

Hosts South Africa need just a point against Malawi at the Wolfson Stadium to secure top spot in Group A after their thrilling last-second success against Botswana on Friday.

The Mares will be in action at the same time at the Westbourne Oval when they play Madagascar, who have already been eliminated from the competition.

Victories for Malawi and Botswana would leave the duo on six points with South Africa, with the equation then coming down to head-to-head encounters.

Earlier in the day, Group C will be decided when Zimbabwe tackle Uganda at the Wolfson Stadium.

It is a titanic clash for top spot, with both sides also mindful that the best runner-up among the three pools also advances to the semi-finals.

- Additional reporting by Cosafa.


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