NAIROBI, Kenya, December 3 – Zimbabwe and Rwanda triumphed over Somalia and Eritrea respectively in two spectacular matches played at Nyayo National Stadium on Thursday.
Goals from Tapiwa Mangezi and captain Guthrie Zhokinyi was all it took for the Brave Warriors to register a 2-0 win over their Horn of Africa counterparts.
Zimbabwe monopolized and almost made the most of their possession with some devastating runs through the heart of the Somali defence with Tendai Nyamadzawo, Ocean Mushure and Khumbulani Banda running rings round the Ocean Stars.
However it was Somalia who almost got on the board first when Abdulle Said Sidi’s shot whistled past the left hand upright.
The Stars then began to gain ascendancy with a high tempo which reduced the warriors to chasing shadows for the first twenty minutes of the half but all that changed after Mangezi’s goal on the half hour mark.
The stocky winger gathered the ball from the halfway line and passed it upfield to Nyamadwazo for a neat one-two before smashing it into the top left corner.
That goal proved to be the much needed impetus for Mapeza’s team who now began to take a stranglehold on the match as Somalia began to struggle with the slippery surface.
It was the same story in the second as Zhokinyi’s 46th header sealed it for Zimbabwe who are now second in Group B behind Rwanda.
The warriors were awarded a corner which was taken by Mangezi. The ball found Mushure at the edge of the box who teed it up for the captain to put his side 2-0 ahead.
For most of the second period it was the same story as the first as Somalia sat back and Zimbabwe played a patient passing game until the last ten minutes.
Abdulla Mohamed was the focal point of the Stars late surge as he went on counteless sorties into the Zimbabwe area ably supported by Mwalimu Badri but there efforts were denied by the impressive Tafadzwa Dube.
Earlier, Rwanda and Eritrea staged the match of the tournament so far with attacking football in abundance.
The first goal however came from a free Yusuf Ndayishime free kick twenty minutes putting the Wasps 1-0 ahead.
Both teams turned the stadium into a shooting gallery with some sizzling shots some of which brought out the best of both keepers.
Eritrean defender Wolday Ermias will have a day to forget however as his attempted clearance of Amin Muetrwa ends up in his own net putting Rwanda 2-0 up at half time.
There was more of the free flowing football in the second period as both teams made the spectators forget about the arctic temperatures that descended on the stadium.
Goitom Tesfaldet made the score 2-1 with seven minutes to score with a thunderous strike following a spectacular build up by the Eritrean midfield.