Zimbabwe: Warriors Fire Warning Shots

DURBAN -- The Warriors began their Cosafa Cup title defence in unconvincing fashion, but still managed to progress to the semifinals of the regional tournament following a comfortable victory over minnows Comoros at the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban yesterday.

First half goals by Khama Billiat and Evans Rusike were enough to hand Zimbabwe a winning start in their quest for a third successive title at the Cosafa Cup, which is also serving as part of their preparations for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals to be held in Egypt later this month.

The Warriors will now face Lesotho in the semifinals on Tuesday after Likuena edged Uganda 3-2 on penalties following a goalless draw in the earlier quarter-final clash at Princess Magogo Stadium.

Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambga said he was pleased with the team's perfomance, considering that it was their first match in the buildup to the Afcon finals.

"As a nation we are quite pleased with the perfomance of the players because what we needed to do in this game was to get to the next round," he said.

"Since it was our first game, we really needed to work hard to get to the next round, which we did.

"Our opponents had played two games before we came and they were in the gear so we did well by getting to the next round."

Asked if this was the last match for some of his stars before they leave for Nigeria for an Afcon warm up match on Saturday, Chidzambga said: "No, not at all.

"We still have four more players coming, the likes of Marvellous Nakamba, Marshall Munetsi and Kuda Mahachi they are going to join us tomorrow [today] so we are going to field another strong team before we go to Nigeria.

"We didn't concede a goal, the opponent did not give us any torrid time but we need to amend our mistakes especially at the back.

"We were not very tight, but above all I think it was good for us to get to the semi-finals and I'm quite pleased with that."

Zimbabwe picked a strong side and also had Belgium-based striker Knowledge Musona come off the bench as they sent an ominous message to the rest of the field as to their prowess in this year's competition.

Zimbabwe were ahead inside five minutes and it was a simple goal, Nottingham Forest defender Tendayi Darikwa sent an inviting ball into the Comoros box, which Rusike headed past a stranded Fahadi Mohamed in the islanders' goal.

Billiat provided a superb touch to make it 2-0 on 36 minutes, meeting the floated pass from midfielder Butholezwe Ncube on the volley and steering it expertly past Mohamed.

Having missed two good chances earlier, it was a sweet moment for the Kaizer Chiefs forward.

Billiat should have got a second when Darikwa's delightful low cross was put on a plate for the striker, but he missed the ball altogether from four yards out.

Rusike forced an excellent save from Mohamed early in the second period as Zimbabwe continued to press, but they could not add to their tally on the night.

Chidzambga made two changes in the second half with Knox Mutizwa coming in for France-based forward Tinotenda Kadewere in the 65th minute, while skipper Knowledge Musona was introduced in the last 13 minutes for Evans Rusike.

Zimbabwe could not add to their tally on the night.

Warriors XI: E. Sibanda, T. Darikwa, R. Pfumbidzai, A. Mudimu, E. Rusike (K Musona 79'), O. Karuru, K. Billiat, T. Kamusoko, T. Kadewere (K Mutizwa 69'), J. Dzingai, B. Ncube.

Zimbabwe ... (2) 2

Comoros ... ..(0) 0

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