Zimbabwe coach Tonderai Ndiraya is wary of the threat posed by South Africa after both teams progressed to the final qualifying round of the Total Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations with victories over Mozambique and Angola respectively.
The Young Warriors of Zimbabwe scored two late goals at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Tuesday to secure their passage to the final round.
Zimbabwe and Mozambique had played out a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Maputo last Friday.
South Africa were more clinical in their quest for a place at the finals in Egypt in November with the Amaglug-glug recording a 3-1 victory in the first leg in Luanda on the same Friday before easing into the second and final qualifying round following a 3-0 triumph at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg later on Tuesday night.
Although they had a healthy first leg lead, David Notoane’s men did not take chances and they wrapped it up with another convincing win.
SuperSport United midfielder Jamie Webber opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a stunning goal, putting the visitors on the back foot.
The hosts had to wait until the 80th minute to extend their lead, through Webber’s SuperSport teammate Teboho Mokoena, who was brought into the under-23 team after Notoane requested Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter to select him.
Luther Singh then wrapped it up in stoppage time with a goal that set them up for a date with Zimbabwe in the final round of the qualifiers.
That 6-1 aggregate win by the South Africans has not escaped the attention of their next opponents’ coach, Ndiraya who said his team would now have to brace for a tougher challenge than the one posed by the Mozambicans.
“It’s going to be much tougher against the South Africans and we would really have to work harder to achieve our dream.”
Ndiraya said the fact the Zimbabwe league is yet to start also made it difficult for his team against the team in particular when it came to the fitness levels.
“If you are not fit then it’s difficult for you to apply basic things. That’s the reason why I have said it was difficult for us because our league here is not active. We never had enough time to prepare, so it was really difficult for the boys. I am just hoping that by the time we play South Africa there will be an improvement in our fitness levels because by then the league here would have started,’’ said Ndiraya.