CUREPIPE – New Zimbabwe football coach Ian Gorowa started his reign on a winning note after the Warriors beat Mauritius 0-3 on Sunday in the first leg of the African Nations Cup (Chan) qualifier.
Gorowa, who replaced German Klaus-Dieter Pagels last week, was taking charge of the team in his first match.
The Warriors have put one foot in the final qualifier after a brace from Nelson Maziwisa and Simba Sithole gave them a convincing lead going into the second leg set for Harare on August 4.
The match was played in pretty appalling condition as rain fell heavily in Curepipe, Wto leave the George V Stadium pitch waterlogged.
The wet conditions however, did little to deter the Warriors who took an early lead when Maziwisa headed in the opener after 14 minutes.
Mauritius threw everything at the Warriors in that opening half as they searched for an equaliser but they were repelled by the Zimbabwe defence in particular goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube, who had an outstanding game.
Upon resumption of the second half, the Warriors increased their lead in the 58th minute through How Mine striker Sithole, who was at the end of a wonderful move created by Highlanders forward Milton Ncube.
Maziwisa scored his second and Zimbabwe’s third in the dying stages of the game to leave the Warriors on the brink of qualification of the final round.
The Warriors are likely to meet neighbours Zambia, who drew their first leg 1-1 away to Botswana last Saturday.
Festus Mbewe put the 10-man visiting team ahead on 78 minutes in Molepolole and Lemponye Tshireletso equalised for the hosts.
Winners of the regional Cosafa Cup last weekend, Zambia lost midfielder Alex Ngonga on 56 minutes after a second yellow card.
Nigeria also survived a fright in Ivory Coast this weekend to book a place at the Chan finals for the first time.
Leading by three goals after a first-leg qualifier of the competition for home-based stars, the Nigerians conceded two goals within 23 minutes.
But they limited the damage to a 2-0 loss and scraped through a 4-3 aggregate to qualify for the 2014 tournament in South Africa.