Zimbabwe national team coach, Logarusic Zdravko Hrvatsko, said that he chose Ovidy Karuru to be captain of the Warriors side because the attacking midfielder was the most experienced player in the group.. He also pointed out that Karuru outran the younger players in the match against Malawi.
The out-of-contract Karuru certainly justified his coach’s choice with a spirited performance to lift Zimbabwe from two goals down in the 56th minute to a well-earned draw that almost turned into a win. Karuru was all over the pitch as Malawi looked to have inflicted a rare defeat for Zimbabwe at the COSAFA Cup via goals from Polokwane City’s Khuda Myaba and the aptly named Schumacher Kuwali.
With Karuru pulling the strings in a free deep attacking role, it was Blessing Sarupinda who found himself free at the back post after a brilliant save from Ernest Kakhobwe, followed by a goal-line clearance had seemingly killed the Zimbabwe chance. Sarupinda gleefully tapped into the empty before checking to see that no flag formed against him was raised before punching the air and running off in muted celebration. Patrick Musaka then found the equaliser, to leave Malawi having to hold on as Zimbabwe turned up the heat. Some more Kakhobwe heroics at the death ensured that Malawi registered their first point of the tournament.
Senegal coach, Marie Josekh Francois Koto, was a much happier man than the one we saw after the Teranga Lions’ first match as his side registered a win over a feisty Mozambique. Coach Koto praised everything and everyone, including the officiating that he had ruthlessly bashed after the loss to Namibia. Pape Djitte’s second-half strike was the deciding factor in a fast-paced encounter that was badly let down by a bumpy pitch. Horacio Goncalves, the coach of Mozambique, mentioned the horribleness of the pitch in every answer he gave at the post-match press conference.
Group is now a tightly contested affair, although table-topping Namibia could gain considerable control with a win in their next match.
The lengthened group stage continues with action swinging back to Group A on Saturday.