The Botswana Under 20 national team’s dream of reaching the finals of the Metropolitan COSAFA Under 20 tournament on home soil took a big dent after they were drubbed 3 ÔÇô 0 by the Young Warriors of Zimbabwe on Friday.
After a promising start to the game, Botswana’s Young Zebras seemed to fade as the game dragged on with Zimbabwe pushing hard for a tie breaker.
The Young Warriors were the first to get a clear shot at goal in the first half when their striker, Denver Mukamba, was put through at goal but was thwarted by Mowampole Masule, in goals for Botswana.
The early scare seemed to wake up the Young Zebras as they started mounting their own attacks against the Young Warriors.
The Young Zebras had their own chance at goal immediately thereafter, with Lemogang Maswena putting through Motsholetsi Sikele but the latter was thwarted by the towering Zimbabwean goal minder, George Chigova. Maswena, who had a brilliant game, then put Maikano Maikano through only for the youngster to shoot over the bar.
From then on, it was an end to end affair as both teams sought the tie breaker only to be frustrated by either team’s goal minders.
Botswana should have taken a lead deep in the first half when Kabo Rasuping hit a dipping shot from deep in the midfield only to see his shot ricocheting off the crossbar with Young Warriors’ keeper Chigova well beaten.
From then on, Zimbabwe looked the most likelier to score as they punched holes in the Young Zebras’ defence at will with their left winger, Kudakwashe Mahachi, giving Young Zebras left back a torrid time, all to the delight of a handful of Zimbabwean supporters in the eastern stands. The resilience of the Young Warriors in attack finally paid off as they broke the deadlock through their burly defender Lincolin Zvayisa.
A minute later, Zvayisa became the first player to get a yellow card for rough play.
The game went to recess with the Young Zebras a goal behind their Zimbabwean counterparts.
Coming into the second half, the Zimbabweans seemed the most determined and their first effort came as early as the first minute but their shot at goal was stopped by the ever alert Masule in Botswana’s goal.
The Young Warriors, however, did not have to wait long as they increased their goal tally to two goals through their captain Simbarashe Sithole. From a beautifully taken cross in the right wing, Sithole rose the highest and delivered a glancing header that left Masule rooted to the spot. From then on, the Zimbabweans seemed intent on killing the game as they started playing enterprising football and taking on the Young Zebras players at will.
Realising that the game was slipping through his grasp, Botswana coach China Matlhaku brought in Kaelo Kgaswane and Phenyo Molefhe for Maikano and Themba Jaele in the 13th and 16th minute, respectively, but it was too little too late for the Young Zebras.
The young Warriors of Zimbabwe literally killed off the game when they scored their third goal from the spot after Mompoloki Rangwang was adjudged to have fouled Mukamba inside the box.
The young Zimbabwean stepped up to take the penalty, which he coolly slotted past Masule.
Mukamba was at it again a few minutes later as he went on a solo run, which saw him turning the Young Zebras in and out but his shot went wide.
Despite a gallant fight from the Young Zebras, they could not do anything as they failed to beat the Young Warriors defence marshalled by Chigova in goal.
The team will now have to raise themselves up for their next encounter.