Zimbabwe’s senior national women’s football team booked their place in the semi-finals of the COSAFA Women’s Championship in Gauteng following a 1-1 draw with Botswana in the Group C decider in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The Mighty Warriors, as the Zimbabwe side is popularly known, join Malawi, who topped Group A with nine points, Zambia and Mozambique, who finished in first and second places with seven points respectively from Group B.
Zimbabwe will face neighbours Zambia in a titanic battle in the first semi-final at midday on Friday before Malawi and Mozambique go head-to-head at 330pm.
Both games will be played at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville and the much anticipated Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology will be used for the first time at a COSAFA tournament at this stage.
The Mighty Warriors, who only needed a point from their final Group C to qualify for the semis had a dream start following a well-executed corner kick less than five minutes into the match.
Striker Priviledge Mupeti, who was named the Player of the Match, found Ennety Chemhere, who headed home the opener in the opening five minutes to give her side the lead.
Botswana had some opportunities to level matters but it was Zimbabwe who came closest to extending their lead when Chemere’s long-range strike shot on the half-hour mark hit the crossbar.
Zimbabwe took the narrow lead into half-time.
After the restart, Botswana upped their tempo while the Mighty Warriors appeared content on preserving their lead.
Despite the reserved approach after the break Zimbabwe almost scored the cushion goal with Mupeti’s free kick outside the box after the hour mark coming off the woodwork.
Botswana didn’t give up and eventually levelled with five minutes to the final whistle through Balothanyi Johannes who scored her second goal of the tournament.
Zimbabwe however held on for a crucial point which steered them to the semi-finals of the regional competition in their first international tournament since the country’s suspension was lifted by FIFA.
The Mighty Warriors finished top of Group C with seven points, and they are the side with the best defensive record in the group stage having conceded just one goal.
Botswana meanwhile was knocked out of the competition after finishing as runners-up in the pool with five points.
Namibia finished third in the group on four points after they won 2-0 against Lesotho in the dead rubber played at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus.