Friday Sep 03, 2021. 17:28
Zimbabwe and South Africa opened Group G in Africa’s 2022 World Cup Qualifying tournament with a goalless stalemate at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Friday.
The result represents a solid start for visitors Bafana Bafana, while the Warriors will feel that they should have made more of their dominance of possession.
South Africa created the first chance eight minutes into the match, with a corner kick routine finding Evidence Makgopa free in the penalty area, but the striker was unable to direct a header on target.
Teboho Mokoena almost netted a spectacular long-range strike in the 17th minute, but Zimbabwe goalkeeper Talbert Shumba made an outstanding one-handed save to turn the effort away for a corner kick.
Around the half-hour mark Zimbabwe began to build some pressure in attack, with Khama Billiat seeing his powerful drive turned behind for a corner kick by goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
Bafana Bafana were guilty of giving the ball away sloppily, allowing the Warriors to boss possession up to the half-time whistle, but the interval arrived with the teams still locked at 0-0.
South Africa made a tactical switch at the start of the second half, replacing Gift Links with Bongokuhle Hlongwane in an effort to bring more creativity to their play.
And the substitute very nearly broke the deadlock shortly after the hour mark, making a powerful run down the right flank before unleashing a powerful low shot which squeezed past Shumba but was cleared off the line by Takudzwa Chimwemwe.
Zimbabwe generally enjoyed more of the ball and looked the more proactive team, but SA were dangerous whenever they had the chance to push forward, with Percy Tau notably forcing a fine save from Shumba on 76 minutes with a dipping drive.
That proved to be the last clear chance at either end, with the teams settling for a share of the spoils. South Africa will be back in Group G action on Monday 6 September with a home match against Ghana at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, while Zimbabwe will travel to face Ethiopia at Bahir Dar Stadium the following day.
South Africa 0
Zimbabwe: Shumba, Chimwemwe, Munetsi, Lunga, Bhasera, Kamusoko, Mudimu, Billiat, Musona, Mahachi (T. Rusike 58’), Kadewere (Dzvukamanja 58’)
South Africa: Williams, Morena, Xulu, De Reuck, Mobbie, Links (Hlongwane 46’), Mokoena, Mvala, Singh (Letsoalo 73’), Makgopa, Tau (Mbule 78’)