Zim send brave Mares packing
Despite going through the tournament unbeaten, Botswana ladies suffered cruel COSAFA heartache on Wednesday, undone by their failure to beat Zimbabwe and sent spiraling out of the competition.
Going into the midweek meeting with their northern neighbours, The Mares knew nothing less than a win would do if they were to progress from Group C and make the semi-finals.
However, although an 85th minute Balothanyi Johannes strike leveled the match and briefly gave the local lasses hope, the all-important winner proved elusive.
It left BW second in the table on five points, two below the Mighty Warriors, who will now play Zambia in the last four on Friday – Group A winners Malawi will meet Mozambique, who qualified as best runner-up, in the other semi.
For Zim, taking part in their first competition since the country’s suspension was lifted by FIFA, piping the Mares to top spot was all the more sweeter, as it was defeat to Botswana early last year that cost them a place at WAFCON ‘22.
The stalemate in Soweto means the Mares COSAFA Cup’ ended the same way it started: with a 1-1 draw.
Similarly, just like against Namibia in Friday’s opener, Captain, Kesegofetse Mochawe’s troops found themselves behind to an early goal. They were undone by a 4th minute corner, gifting Ennety Chemhere far too much space in the box, the attacker free to head home Privilege Mupeti’s pinpoint cross.
It meant The Mares would have to net twice against a team yet to concede in the tournament, having earlier seen off first Lesotho 1-0 and then the Namibians 2-0.
They came agonizingly close to an equalizer just before the half-hour mark, Mochawe denied by an excellent save from Zim stopper, Cynthia Shonga.
Piling on the pressure, the Mares laid siege to their opponent’s goal, looking for the same cutting edge that saw them put three past Lesotho on Monday.
To their credit, they never stopped trying, ‘Juju’ Johannes’ second goal of the cup setting up a frantic finish.
Sadly, it was too little, too late.