Favourites Zimbabwe set for Lesotho battle

Favourites Zimbabwe set for Lesotho battle
Ocean Mashure of Zimbabwe during 2017 Cosafa Castle Cup match between Swaziland and Zimbabwe at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on 02 July 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Monday Jul 03, 2017. 16:30

Zimbabwe and Lesotho will battle for a place in the final of the 2017 Cosafa Cup when they meet at Moruleng Stadium on Wednesday, 5 July, kick-off at 19h30 CAT.

Zimbabwe have established themselves as the tournament favourites with their performances in Rustenburg - they come into this semifinal having scored 12 goals in just four games.

After topping Group B on goal difference ahead of (a somewhat unfortunate) Madagascar, the Warriors defeated Swaziland 2-1 in their quarterfinal on Sunday evening, with Ovidy Karuru and Knox Mutizwa finding the back of the net.

It was a somewhat up-and-down performance from Zimbabwe against Swaziland, but given that it was their fourth match in the space of six days, a certain level of fatigue and inconsistency was inevitable.

“I think we played very well in the first half and had the game under control. We could have easily scored three or four goals,” explained coach Sunday Chidzambwa.

“But we started the second half badly and gave away a very easy goal that was a result of some poor positional play by one of the central defenders.”

As for Lesotho, fatigue won’t be a problem as they only entered the tournament this past weekend with their quarterfinal match against Namibia. Likuena held the Brave Warriors to a goalless draw on Saturday and went on to win the post-match penalty shootout 5-4.

It’s hard to judge Lesotho’s form and potential from just one match, but they don’t appear to have same firepower at their disposal as Zimbabwe, who must start this clash as the clear favourites.

Zimbabwe and Lesotho have met in 18 matches according to FIFA’s statistics, with the Warriors claiming 13 wins compared to just one for Likuena. The teams’ most recent meeting was a 3-1 win for Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in October 2015.

In the Cosafa Cup, Zimbabwe and Lesotho last met in the semifinals of the 2013 edition in Zambia, with the Warriors claiming a 2-1 win in Ndola thanks to a brace from Tendai Ndoro.

The winners will face either Zambia or Tanzania in the final at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Sunday, 9 July.

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