Wednesday Jul 07, 2021. 19:00
The 2015 champions Namibia defeated west African guest nation Senegal 2-1 to get their 2021 COSAFA Cup Group B campaign off to a positive start in Nelson Mandela Bay on Wednesday.
It ended another superb day of football at the Isaac Wolfson Stadium that also saw Zimbabwe and Mozambique locked at 0-0.
Namibia hit the front thanks to an early goal for Marcel Papama, who profited from some uncertain defending by Senegal and opened his account for the tournament.
But Senegal were level almost straight away, winger Lamane Diene thrashed the ball into the net from close range after it fell to him in the box. It was an excellent finish showing great technique.
That was the way it stayed until early in the second period when striker Elmo Kambindu finished off a fine team move as he headed in from Aprocious Petrus’ cross-come-shot.
Meanwhile, Mozambique and six-time winners Zimbabwe played to a 0-0 draw in the first game of the day. Despite no goals, it was an entertaining fixture in which both sides created opportunities without finding the back of the net, and perhaps a draw was a fair result.
Mozambique had two early chances as, first, Zimbabwe goalkeeper Washington Arubi denied Estevao Novela with a superb save, before Francisco Simbine headed over when it seemed easier to score.
Zimbabwe’s best chance fell to captain Ovidy Karuru, who put his header inches wide late on.
The action will continue in Group A on Thursday when South Africa will seek to make it back-to-back wins as they take on Eswatini, who themselves opened the tournament with a 3-1 victory against Lesotho.
Three points for either of these sides would be a massive step towards the semifinals. It is a tough one to call but the greater experience of Eswatini may give them the edge. Kick-off is at 15h00.
Before that, defending champions Zambia will start their campaign with a clash against Lesotho (kick-off 12h00).
Lesotho will be desperate to bounce back from their opening day loss, while Zambia, among the pre-tournament favourites again, will try to hit the ground running.
Lesotho have the advantage of one game under their belt, while Zambia must get up to speed quickly.
The top two teams in each of the groups advance to the semifinals, which will be played on July 16.
You can follow all the games live on www.cosafa.tv.
Mozambique 0 Zimbabwe 0
Senegal 1 (Diene 17′) Namibia 2 (Papama 13′, Kambindu 49’)
Zambia vs Lesotho (KO 12h00; 10h00 GMT)
South Africa vs Eswatini (KO 15h00; 13h00 GMT)