Warriors to meet Kenya in final

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Zambia – (2) 2 : Zimbabwe – (2) 2 (Zimbabwe won 6-5 on penalties)

ENGLAND-based forward McCauley Bonne finally made his Warriors debut and scored a goal as Zimbabwe defeated old rivals Zambia, coming from behind to overcome Chipolopolo in a Four-Nations tournament semi-final.

What made it even sweeter for Bonne was that it was his 100th career goal and it came on the day that he finally made his long-awaited debut for the Warriors.

Bonne had previously only played in national colours once when he featured for Kalisto Pasuwa’s Under-23 side that took on Morocco in an international friendly eight years ago.

The showdown between the traditional rivals Zimbabwe and Zambia was the first of the double dose of semi-finals at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, with hosts Malawi later taking on Kenya.

The Warriors will now face Kenya in the final at the same venue on Tuesday after the Harambee Stars went on a rampage and bundled out the Flames with a 4-0 rout.

After Zambia seized the initiative in the opening half racing into a 2-0 lead in the first 24 minutes, the Warriors refused to bow down and fought their way back in the same period.

France-based skipper Marshall Munetsi, in his post-match interview, attributed their strong comeback to character on the part of his Warriors whom he said have gained big-match temperament from featuring for top clubs across the globe.

Seemingly ageless Zambian veteran skipper Stoppila Sunzu got Chipolopolo off to a flying start when he headed home off a free-kick in the fifth minute.

The Zambians then doubled their lead via Clatous Chama’s curling effort in the 24th minute, which beat Warriors goalkeeper Donovan Bernard.

But caretaker coach Norman Mapeza saw the battling qualities of his charges come into play as Bonne pulled one back in what Munetsi described as a “typical poacher’s goal”.

Bonne tapped home a cross from another Warriors debutant Daniel Msendami.

“Tough game today in the conditions here, we fought hard and had to dig deeper to come back with a draw and eventually win the match.

“But I am happy to be back and to score goals. We haven’t had much time to gel together but we are going to do our best to bring the trophy to Zim,” Bonne said.

Having pulled one back through Bonne, the Warriors grew in confidence and Simba Bhora newboy Walter Musona restored parity for his team, beating Zambian goalkeeper Lawrence Mulenga in the second minute of the referee’s optional time.

After the teams emerged from the half-time break, there were no further goals from either side in the second period, which meant that the game had to be decided via a penalty shootout lottery, in which the Warriors eventually prevailed.

“We played well despite conceding two early goals,” Mapeza said afterwards.

“We took the game to Zambia and we should have won it in regulation time.

“We outplayed them, particularly in the second half and they looked tired.”

Zimbabwe keeper Bernard was called into action early in the second-half when he made a stunning save to deny Zambia’s Leicester City forward Patson Daka, who had broken clear on goal.

Zimbabwe had their own chances to seal the game in regulation time which they spurned.

Bonne came close to getting a brace for the Warriors in the early stages of the second period but the Cambridge United striker blasted his effort over the bar from inside the box.

It then came down to the shootout and Chicken Inn goalkeeper Bernard was the hero for the Warriors as he saved two spot-kicks, including one in the sudden death.

Andy Rinomhota, Musona, Tinotenda Kadewere, Marshall Munetsi, Devine Lunga, Gerald Takwara, Bernard and Msendami took the Warriors penalties.

Musona and Lunga had their penalty kicks saved before Msendami held his nerve to convert the decisive effort that sent the Warriors through.