Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
MIGHTY Warriors coach Sithetheliwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda admitted it is going to be a tall order to qualify for the Africa Women Cup of Nations after her troops made defensive blunders that cost them the match against visiting Botswana at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
The hosts, who were clearly not match fit, allowed Botswana to settle and make some neat passes in this first leg of the final round of qualifiers.
The Mares took the lead in the 47th minute when forward Refiliwe Tholakele caught the Zimbabwean defence napping and then double scorer, Lesego Radiakanyo extended their tally in the 77th minute.
Black Rhinos Queens midfielder Privilege Mupeti pulled one back for the hosts with five minutes of regulation time remaining. She had only been on the pitch three minutes after replacing striker Rutendo “Madzimai” Makore.
But Zimbabwe’s hopes of a comeback were extinguished when Radiakanyo returned for her second by firing into an empty net following an exchange of passes.
Zimbabwe will need to dig deeper in the reverse fixture next Wednesday in Francistown. Sibanda, however, remained bullish in defeat.
“Botswana came here and scored three goals; with the right mindset we can still go out there and upset them in their home ground. Of course, it is going to be a tall order, and we really need a lot of mental fitness from the players,” she said.
Sibanda said they made a couple of mistakes including the fatal defensive blunders.
“It was a very intensive game I would say and very physical, as l had alluded to earlier on that we would be playing a much fitter side.
“They brought their physical presence into the game. I think the mistake that we made, was that the players tried to absorb the pressure but as we absorbed the pressure, we then played to their strengths which were on the long ball.
“Each time we tried to rotate it, we were doing much better than when we pumped the ball around. So overall it was a very intensive game, a good game, and we could have done better with the chances that we created.
“But I must say defensive errors cost us the match. Such goalkeeping and defensive errors at this level are not acceptable. It’s football, we move from here,” said Sibanda.
The winner will qualify to the women’s version of the Africa Nations Cup to be staged in Morocco in July.
Zimbabwe: L. Magwede, E. Msipa, N. Ncube, V. Mharadzi, D. Bhobho, E. Tumbare, E. Mutumbami, M. Nyaumwe (B. Kabwe 90th min), M. Mafuruse (M. Chirandu 68th min) R. Neshamba, R. Makore (P. Mupeti 82nd minute).
Botswana: L. Moeng. K. Mochawe. M. Montsho. G. Selebatso. R. Tholakele. M. Thanda L. Radiakang K. Dithebe (L. Gaofetoge 67th min), B. Otlhagile V. Mogotsi B. Johannes (A. Sechane 88th min)