Zimbabwe took a major step toward qualifying for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations by defeating Swaziland 4-0 at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Monday afternoon.
The result – secured by second half goals from Knowledge Musona, Costa Nhamoinesu, Evans Rusike and Khama Billiat – saw the Warriors move to eight points at the top of Group L, three ahead of second-placed Sihlangu Semnikati. The two other teams, Malawi and Guinea, have two points each and will meet in Blantyre on Tuesday afternoon.
Zimbabwe started the match strongly, but it was Swaziland who first threatened a goal when Felix Badenhorst had the ball in the back of the net midway through the first half, only for his effort to be correctly ruled out for offside.
It took just six minutes of the second half for the Warriors to break the deadlock, with Knowledge Musona coolly converting from the penalty spot to make it 1-0.
And the hosts doubled their advantage just before the hour mark when substitute Khama Billiat provided a fine cross from a free kick and defender Costa Nhamoinesu arrived at the back post to score with a powerful header.
With just under a quarter hour of regulation time remaining, Zimbabwe made it 3-0 when substitute Evans Rusike saw an attempted clearance from a defender rebound off his shin and fly into the bottom corner of Swaziland’s net.
And there was still time for Billiat to score with a low shot into the bottom corner on 85 minutes to wrap up an emphatic 4-0 score line in favour of Zimbabwe.
The teams will return to 2017 qualifying action in June, with Zimbabwe set to host Malawi, while Swaziland will welcome Guinea.