ZIMBABWE’s Under–20 soccer team is out of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals after they were beaten 2-0 by Mozambique in a Cosafa Under-20 Championships Group A match at the Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa yesterday.
The Under-20 Championships serve as a qualification tournament with the finalists booking a ticket to the Afcon finals set for Mauritania next February.
The Tonderai Ndiraya-coached side drew 2-2 with South Africa in their opening match on Thursday, and needed to win yesterday’s match to stay in the hunt for the ticket.
The top team in each pool as well as best-placed runner-up advance to the semi-finals of the Cosafa Championships.
Needing to win the match, the Young Warriors looked like they were up for the challenge until they conceded a penalty in the 54th minute which was put away by Simon Cupriano.
Zimbabwe were by far the better side to this point. Ndiraya’s reaction to the setback, was to introduce the highly-rated attacking midfielder Oscar Magejo for Munashe Katondo.
They continued to pile on pressure as they searched for the equaliser. However, they were further pegged back when Gabriel Pinho scored the second for Mozambique with five minutes remaining to crush the Young Warriors hopes.
In another group A match, South Africa clobbered Lesotho by 7-goals to nil to remain second in the group with four points, two behind leaders Mozambique. Zimbabwe play winless Lesotho tomorrow in a dead-rubber while South Africa and Mozambique clash in a winner takes all contest on the same day.