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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Mozambique and Zimbabwe play to drab scoreless draw to open up Wednesday COSAFA Cup action

Group B in the 2021 COSAFA Cup started out slowly with a 0-0 draw between the Mambas of Mozambique and Zimbabwe on Wednesday that featured few chances for either side. A mostly young Mozambique side showed the most initiative but lacked the cutting edge in the final third while Zimbabwe’s mostly domestic-based side failed to be adventurous enough and provided little support for its front line.

The opening 10 minutes showed promise, especially for the Mambas as the youthful Mozambique side attempted to find an early strike including right from the kick off, where Zimbabwe keeper Washington Arubi had to be alert and navigate the sun in his eyes to snatch an ambitious shot that was heading on target. In the 7th minute a cross came in from the right flank for Estêvão Novela, but the Liga Desportivo de Maputo striker’s looping header was tipped over the bar by Arubi. The resulting corner kick led to a cross for Mozambique that was headed back across goal where Marítimo player Francisco Simbine had the goal at his mercy but headed over from close range.

Zimbabwe had their first decent look at goal in the 24th minute. Platinum Stars left back Qadr Amini made an enterprising run down the flank, playing a well constructed combination with Farau Matare before crossing back to the edge of the Mozambican penalty area. However, debutant Brian Banda connected poorly on his first time effort and the ball went harmlessly wide.

The opening half showed some promise of a goal, but the match particularly deteriorated in the second half and there was little hope of either team breaking the stalemate. Zimbabwe’s veteran forward Ovidy Karuru offered the most potential to get a goal for the Warriors but the Black Leopards player had little support and had to go it alone one too many times against the Mozambique defense.

In the final 10 minutes, both teams had brief looks with the 85th minute leading to a Zimbabwe free kick that resulted in a blocked shot with a crowded scramble. In the ensuing melee the ball rolled back for an open look from eight yards out but Zimbabwe blasted over. In stoppage time Mozambique keeper Ernan Siluane sent a long ball that bounced into the Zimbabwe penalty area and was flicked on to Nilton Ernesto, who sent a nifty improvised header into the net but was ruled offside.

Highlights of the scoreless draw are below.