Young Gladiators bow out of Cosafa

05 Aug 2019 16:10pm
WINDHOEK, 05 AUG (NAMPA) - The national Under-20 women’s football team bowed out of the 2019 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) championships following a 4-0 loss to Zimbabwe in their final group A match played Monday in South Africa.
The match, played in Port Elizabeth, started off brightly with both teams attacking each other with the hope of getting an early goal, with the Namibian team’s Veronica April twice shooting straight at the Zimbabwean goalkeeper, Cynthia Shonga.
However, it was Zimbabwe who took an early lead when Talent Bizeki scored with a long-range shot that looped over Namibia’s goalkeeper, Megan Schuster, in the 19th minute.
That goal unsettled the Namibians as Zimbabwe slowly took control of the match, with Dinah Banda taking advantage of confusion between Captain Julia Rutjindo and Vijakura Tjingaete to make the score-line 2-0 in the 31st minute.
The floodgates continued as another defensive lapse, this time by goalkeeper Schuster who misjudged the bounce of the ball, left Praynence Zvawanda with the easy task of heading into an empty net to make it 3-0 with 33 minutes played.
Defensive mix-ups continued to haunt the Gladiators when Rutjindo and Tjingaete failed to clear a ball that had bounced off the bar, and Banda was on hand to score her second goal of the match and make it 4-0 going into halftime.
The second half saw a much improved defensive performance by Namibia as they matched their Zimbabwean counterparts.
The Young Gladiators were able to create a few half chances of their own, with Tjamunene Ndjavera shooting weakly at the goalkeeper in the 62nd minute, while Rutjindo’s free kick was easily gathered by Shonga.
In the 88th minute, Namibia could have scored when Tjingaete found herself in the box, but her shot was off target.
The defeat sees the Young Gladiators crash out of the 2019 tournament, while South Africa qualifies top of the group with nine points, followed by Zimbabwe with six.
Coach Mervin Mbakera bemoaned the individual mistakes by his team, saying from the start of the match, Namibia was already under pressure.
“Three goals were purely individual mistakes. We also did not create enough to win the match. The score-line is not a good reflection of the game. This is a new team, which is a work-in-progress as most of the previous girls have progressed to the senior team,” he said.
He added that the Zimbabwean team was physical and his girls could not match their opponents, saying his players have gained enough experience to compete at the next tournament.
Namibia has three points from as many games, while Mozambique failed to register a single win from three matches played.