HARARE – Defender Elisha Muroiwa scored with a spectacular overhead kick to rescue a point for the Warriors in their Cosafa Castle Cup Group A opening match against Swaziland in Namibia yesterday.
Sihlangu looked set to collect maximum points, courtesy of a brace by Felix Badenhorst, but the Dynamos defender stepped up with 12 minutes to go to keep the Warriors alive in the group.
With only the group winners progressing to the quarter-finals, a defeat for Kalisto Pasuwa’s men in the opening match would have been disastrous.
Now the Warriors need to convincingly beat Madagascar tomorrow night and Seychelles in their final group game on Wednesday to reach the last eight.
Sihlangu enjoyed a frantic start to the game as they had the Warriors on the back foot from the first whistle.
Warriors goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the early stages and it was no surprise when Swaziland took the lead after only 16 minutes.
Sihlangu defender Sifiso Mabila sent what looked like a ponderous cross into the Zimbabwe box and Badenhorst arrived at the back post to punish the static Warriors defence.
Hardlife Zvirekwi should have tracked Badenhorst’s run but the big forward was allowed free space to head across Mukuruva to give his side the lead.
Sihlangu continued to press the Warriors in their own half but they could not find a way past Mukuruva, who was having an inspired afternoon.
In the second period, the Warriors were a much better side as they began to ask more questions of the Sihlangu defence.
Zimbabwe were back on level terms 11 minutes after the breakthrough forward Obadiah Tarumbwa’s header. The goal was exactly a carbon copy of the Swaziland opener.
Winger Marshal Mudehwe sent in a cross from the left into the box where Tarumbwa had wheeled away from his marker to head the Warriors level.
From there on, the match was now an open affair with both sides throwing men forward to find a winning goal.
Sihlangu were given a great chance to take the lead when Warriors captain Danny Phiri handled inside the box.
Badenhorst made no mistake from the spot kick as he sent Mukuruva the wrong way from 12 yards out.
The onus was now on the Warriors to look for an equaliser and they began pushing more men forward.
Sihlangu remained dangerous on the break and they wasted a number of chances to increase their lead.
They were made to pay for those misses when a Tarumbwa free kick caused all kinds of problems in the Swaziland box.
With the ball bubbling up in the air, Muroiwa and Ronald Pfumbidzai went for the same ball with their backs to goal.
Muroiwa got the all important contact to equalise for the Warriors.