Namibia produced a courageous second half fightback as they narrowly went down 3-2 to Zimbabwe in an international soccer friendly at Rufaro Stadium in Harare on Wednesday night (15 November).
Trailing 2-0 after the opening twenty minutes of the match, the Brave Warriors mounted a spirited comeback and were unlucky not to have come away with a draw.
According to reports from Harare, strikers Gilbert Mushangazhike and Evans Gwekwerere scored in the first half while Motor-Action midfielder Clement Matawu grabbed an early second half strike that separated the two teams.
Namibia hit back with a goal either side of the half through Victor Helu and a penalty from Costa Khaiseb.
Zimbabwe had the best opportunities in the first half in which Francis Chandida stole the show with some energetic runs in the middle of the park.
It was not surprising when the Warriors got their first goal in the 12th minute when David Kutyauripo sent in a low cross into the Namibia goal and Mushangazhike made no mistake from close range after Gwekwerere had sold a dummy to the defenders.
Earlier on, Zimbabwe had come close to scoring after former Young Warriors captain Onesimo Bhasera made a good run on the left flank before whipping in a cross that eluded Namibian defender Michael Pienaar.
The ball landed on the boot of Mushangazhike inside the Namibia penalty box but his effort missed the left upright.
Zimbabwe doubled their lead in the 17th minute when Gwekwerere nodded home from a cross by Mushangazhike who had beaten his marker on the right flank.
Namibia, however, showed some resistance in the wake of the Warriorsâ?? forays and in the 31st minute goalkeeper Washington Arubi was forced off his line to block a stinging shot by the visitorsâ?? captain Pienaar following a half-hearted clearance of a corner kick by the Zimbabwean defence.
Namibia reduced the arrears in the 36th minute when Victor Helu beat Zimbabwean defenders to the ball to tap in from a low free-kick by Jeremia Baisako on the right flank.
Coach Charles Mhlauri made a double substitution at half time bringing in former captain Peter Ndlovu and his South African based colleague Edzai Kasinauyo to replace Mushangazhike and Chandida.
While the duoâ??s contributions were minimal, Chandidaâ??s absence in the second half was clearly felt as Zimbabweâ??s game took a dip to let Namibia take control of the affairs.
Zimbabwe, however, had already sealed the game five minutes after the breather when Matawu outpaced Pienaar to latch onto a long ball upfront by captain Zvenyika Makonese and slotted home against an advancing goalkeeper, Abisai Shiningayamwe.
Khaiseb made it 3-2 from the penalty spot in the 57th minute. Makonese handled in the area under pressure and Zimbabwean referee Christopher Emmanuel rightly awarded a penalty, which Khaiseb fired past Arubi..
Brave Warriors coach Ben Bamfuchile was happy with his teamâ??s performance.
"The match was good for both teams and Iâ??m very happy with the way my team played. They have shown some improvement and itâ??s showing on the Fifa rankings,â? he said
Zimbabwe: W Arubi; D Kutyauripo; O Bhasera; Z Makonese; J Matola; C Matawu; F Chandida (P Ndlovu 46th min); H Gombami; G Mushangazhike (E Kasinauyo 46th min); E Gwekwerere; M Mwanjali.
Namibia: A Shiningayamwe; M Pienaar; G Nakuta; F April; G Keister; J Ngatjizeko; J Baisako; V Helu (J Seibeb 75th min); O Risser; A von Stryk (R Bester 55th min); C Khaiseb.