Rusty Namibia ad­vance as Zim­babwe pay penalty

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Zim­babwe were bun­dled out of the African Na­tions Cham­pi­onship Sun­day by rusty Namibia, just two weeks af­ter be­ing hailed as na­tional he­roes for be­com­ing re­gional cham­pi­ons. Many of the play­ers who beat Zam­bia to win the COSAFA Cup south­ern Africa ti­tle were in the team that beat Namibia 1-0 in Harare, but lost 5-4 on penal­ties.

The shootout was trig­gered by an ag­gre­gate dead­lock af­ter Namibia won the first leg of the sec­ond round qual­i­fier 1-0 in Wind­hoek last week­end. Namibia con­verted all five spot-kicks, but Zim­babwe goal­keeper Her­bert Ru­sawo had his saved to cost the “War­riors” the tie. Prince Dube scored the only goal on 39 min­utes at the Na­tional Sports Sta­dium, can­celling the first-leg ad­van­tage Namibia gained through a Hen­drik So­maeb scorcher.

The exit of Zim­babwe af­ter the sec­ond of three qual­i­fy­ing rounds for the 2018 Na­tions Cham­pi­onship in Kenya next Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary was a shock. They had qual­i­fied for the four pre­vi­ous edi­tions of a com­pe­ti­tion re­stricted to foot­ballers reg­is­tered with clubs in their coun­try of birth. With most African na­tion­als squad com­posed al­most ex­clu­sively of Europe­based play­ers, the Na­tions Cham­pi­onship was in­tro­duced in 2008 to give lo­cal stars in­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure.

Matches have full in­ter­na­tional sta­tus, count to­ward the monthly FIFA rank­ings and caps are awarded. Another fac­tor that seemed to favour Zim­babwe was the rusti­ness of Namibia as there has been no do­mes­tic league foot­ball for more than a year due to feud­ing among of­fi­cials.

Tiny is­land state Co­moros booked a third-round tie against Namibia dur­ing Au­gust de­spite los­ing 1-0 to Le­sotho at Set­soto Sta­dium in Maseru. Re­boame Koloti struck af­ter only 12 min­utes to get the home team off to an en­cour­ag­ing start, but they failed to score again and bowed out 2-1 on ag­gre­gate.

Mada­gas­car up­set Mozam­bique 2-0 in Ma­puto af­ter be­ing held at home with goals from Bela Claudel Fanomezana and Njiva Rako­to­hari­malala set­ting up a show­down against An­gola.

Another un­ex­pected sec­ond leg re­sult was Liberia de­feat­ing Mau­ri­ta­nia 1-0 in Nouak­chott through a Christo­pher Jack­son goal six min­utes be­fore half-time. But the win was not enough to erase the dam­age caused by a 2-0 loss in Mon­rovia last week­end and Mau­ri­ta­nia pro­gressed to face Mali next month. Benin squeezed past Togo 8-7 on penal­ties af­ter another 1-1 draw be­tween the west African neigh­bours, this time in Cotonou.

War­ris Aboki gave Benin an early sec­ond half lead that Kod­jio Se­wonou can­celled with 18 min­utes re­main­ing.

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