Zimbabwe were bundled out of the African Nations Championship Sunday by rusty Namibia, just two weeks after being hailed as national heroes for becoming regional champions.
Many of the players who beat Zambia to win the COSAFA Cup southern Africa title were in the team that beat Namibia 1-0 in Harare, but lost 5-4 on penalties.
The shootout was triggered by an aggregate deadlock after Namibia won the first leg of the second round qualifier 1-0 in Windhoek last weekend. Namibia converted all five spot kicks, but Zimbabwe goalkeeper Herbert Rusawo had his saved to cost the “Warriors” the tie.
Prince Dube scored the only goal on 39 minutes at the National Sports Stadium, cancelling the first-leg advantage Namibia gained through a Hendrik Somaeb scorcher.
The exit of Zimbabwe after the second of three qualifying rounds for the 2018 Nations Championship in Kenya next January and February was a shock.
They had qualified for the four previous editions of a competition restricted to footballers registered with clubs in their country of birth. With most African nationals squad composed almost exclusively of Europe-based players, the Nations Championship was introduced in 2008 to give local stars international exposure.
Matches have full international status, count toward the monthly FIFA rankings and caps are awarded. Another factor that seemed to favour Zimbabwe was the rustiness of Namibia as there has been no domestic league football for more than a year due to feuding among officials. -AFP