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Zimbabwe stun Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa

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Knowledge Musona

Ronald Pfumbidzai and Knowledge Musona scored either side of the break to fire Zimbabwe to an improbable 2-1 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa Cup of Nations qualification.

Substitute Yannick Bolasie netted an injury-time consolation for the hosts, whose cast of European-based stars largely struggled to break a defiant Warriors rearguard.

Bloemfontein Celtic left-back Pfumbidzai, standing in for the injured Devine Lunga, rifled the ball home from inside the box after the DRC defence failed to clear Khama Billiat’s 21st-minute free-kick.

Captain Knowledge Musona doubled the advantage 20 minutes from time, moments before he was red-carded for a second bookable offence.

The victory left Zimbabwe three points clear of the DRC atop Group G, with Congo-Brazzaville now also back in contention after their 3-1 win over Liberia on Friday brought their points tally to four.

The DRC were threatening to overrun Zimbabwe early on as they thoroughly dominated possession, but it must have been a good omen for Sunday Chidzambwa’s men that the hosts were struggling to consistently create some clear-cut chances.

They did threaten, with China-based forward Cedric Bakambu’s powerful close-range header being parried over for a corner by goalkeeper George Chigova.

Despite being forced to play on the back foot though, Zimbabwe had their own bright moment inside the opening quarter-hour as Knox Mutizwa volleyed over from a promising position.

The lively DRC crowd were then stunned as Pfumbidzai opened the scoring against the run of play.

Bakambu had a great chance to bring his side level but shot wide of Chigova’s far post after a great through ball from Gael Kakuta on 35 minutes.

Chidzambwa had started with a central-midfield partnership of Danny Phiri alongside the returning Marvelous Nakamba, and the duo did a sterling job protecting the defence.

The centre-back partnership of Teenage Hadebe and Alec Mudimu also looked resolute for much of the contest, and right-back Tendai Darikwa, who was making his competitive debut for Zimbabwe, was equally impressive.

Victory has put Zimbabwe in a great position to finish in the top two and qualify for the Cameroon finals regardless of the result in the return leg at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Tuesday evening.

Liberia host Congo-Brazzaville on Sunday looking for their first win of the campaign.

KweseESPN

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Highlanders’ Apology for Fan Misconduct in Abandoned Dynamos Fixture

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Highlanders Football Club has issued a sincere apology to the Zimbabwean football community following the crowd skirmishes that occurred during the high-profile premiership fixture against their archrivals Dynamos. The incident happened just 33 minutes into the game at Barbourfields Stadium, where the Bulawayo club was trailing by two goals. Fans stormed the pitch, protesting against the referring decisions that were perceived to be unfavourable to their team.

The police were overwhelmed by the advancing football hooligans, forcing them to retreat. Some fans were injured during the skirmishes, and vehicles were damaged as the police fought running battles with fans outside the stadium.

In a statement released on Monday, the Highlanders Football Club condemned the unsporting behaviour of the fans who caused the abandonment of the match. The club executive stated that they would be heavily fined for the mayhem, and the points would be awarded to Dynamos on a 3-0 scoreline as per the norm with abandoned matches.

The statement read, “Highlanders Football Club is deeply saddened by the crowd trouble that led to the abandonment of our league match against Dynamos FC at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday. The club condemns the unsporting behaviour that negatively profiles Zimbabwean football as a brand. It is sad to witness such ugly scenes at a family sports event, especially at a time when the club, together with other stakeholders, is working tirelessly to bring fans back into the stadiums and convincing the corporate world that sport, in general, and football, in particular, is worth their support.”

Highlanders apologised to all its stakeholders, especially sponsors, partners, and innocent football-loving fans who were affected by the acts of a few selfish individuals who care less about the growth of their clubs and football in general. They also prayed for those who were injured and wished them a speedy recovery. The club also urged stakeholders to work together to find a lasting solution to hooliganism in football stadiums.

This is not the first time in two seasons that a match involving the two most followed clubs has been abandoned due to crowd trouble. Another fixture was abandoned in May last year when both sets of fans invaded the pitch. Highlanders celebrated an unorthodox celebration for a 93rd-minute finish by Washington Navaya that broke the deadlock, while Dynamos fans were protesting a referring decision over an incident leading to the goal.

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Zimbabwean youngster Jimiel Chikukwa has joined English National League side FC Halifax Town

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Zimbabwean youngster Jimiel Chikukwa has joined English National League side FC Halifax Town following his release by Championship side Watford.

The 20-year-old forward was unveiled by Halifax Town last week. ”We are pleased to announce that FC Halifax Town has signed Jimiel Chikukwa, who was recently released from Championship team Watford”. Chikukwa started his career in the Leeds United academy when he was only 13 years old. However, he decided to join Watford’s academy in the summer of 2021 when his contract with Leeds expired.

During his time with Watford, Chikukwa was loaned to Maidstone United in the National League South for the second half of the 2021/22 season. Although the Stones won the National League South, Chikukwa only made one league appearance before returning to Watford at the end of the season.

Town boss Chris Millington is optimistic about the future of new signing Jimiel Chikukwa.

Millington expressed, “He is a young and thrilling player who needs to demonstrate his abilities in senior games. However, he has shown tremendous potential, and we believe he will be an exceptional player for our team in the future.” Millington also mentioned that Chikukwa is versatile and can play in various positions, including anywhere in the front three and as an attacking wing-back.

We think he could pose a danger when playing as a number nine, but he could also be a threat when positioned on either wing. In our current formation, he might even excel as an attacking wing-back, similar to Angelo Cappello.

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Reims secures first win with Munetsi scoring his first goal

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Zimbabwe international Marshall Munetsi has expressed his delight after scoring his first goal of the season to inspire Stade de Reims to their first win of the season following a 2-0 victory against Clermont Foot in the second round of the French Ligue 1 on Sunday.

The 27-year-old midfielder was instrumental in ensuring Reims got its first win of the season after breaking the deadlock with a header in the 17th minute.

Denmark international Mohamed Daramy, a new signing from Ajax, added a second goal by converting a low cross from Junya Ito in the 84th.

Munetsi, who is flourishing in a more advanced role at Reims, had several opportunities to double his tally.

Probably his best chance of securing a brace came in the 76th minute when the Clermont goalkeeper Mory Diaw produced a double save to deny the Zimbabwe international what looked like a certain goal.

In the end, it was a successful day for Munetsi as he continued his solid start to the season by scoring a crucial goal to follow up on his contribution on the opening day of the season when he registered an assist during the 2-1 loss against Marseille in the first round of the season.

Afterwards, Munetsi took to social media to praise his teammates for putting on a solid display to register their first win of the campaign in their second match.

Great team performance @StadeDeReims to get our first win of the season at home. We keep going,” Munetsi said.

The former Orlando Pirates player is expected to play an important role for the Zimbabwe Warriors when they return to international football later this year in the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers.

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