Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
IT was another good day for Zimbabwe’s Under-16 football team at the Copa Coca-Cola Africa Cup yesterday.
They pulled through to the final after beating Zambia 4-3 on penalties at M-Pesa Foundation Academy in Thika, Kenya.
It was a close contest between the two neighbours and Zimbabwe, who have been enjoying a good run at the competition, had to dig deep into their bag of tricks yesterday after the match ended 2-2 in regulation time.
Zimbabwe were the first to score and went into the break leading 1-0.
But Zambia came from behind to lead 2-1 in the second half before goalkeeper Ronald Uraya levelled the score for Zimbabwe from the penalty spot with two minutes to go before the final whistle.
Uraya had earlier saved a penalty.The Zimbabwean goalkeeper again emerged the hero of the shoot-out, saving two penalties and beating his opposite number to help his side advance to the final.
The Pathias Mauto-coached side have had a fruitful outing at the tournament that has attracted 12 countries.
“The boys played our style of play for 15 minutes and we managed to score a goal,’’ the coach said.
‘‘But, after scoring, they started to be too cautious and this made them lose the way. Zambia gained confidence and they managed to score two goals. Then, in the second half, we started playing our normal passing game and we created a lot of chances and we ended up getting a goal.”
Zimbabwe have surpassed their previous performance from last year when they failed to go beyond the group stages.
They will face Tanzania in the final today.
“We just need to make sure that we play our normal quick-passing game because Tanzania are a bit slow at the back,” Mauto said.
Tanzania beat Kenya 5-4 on penalties.
The match had ended goalless. Zambia take on Kenya in the third and fourth play-offs.