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Tragedy overshadows Zimbabwe Warriors’ qualification

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The death of a fan overshadowed Zimbabwe’s qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday, following the final matches of Group G.

An official at Zimbabwe’s FA confirmed that a supporter had been killed in a stampede outside the national stadium in Harare before kick-off in their crucial match against Congo Brazzaville.

Despite the tragedy, the qualifier went ahead as scheduled with Zimbabwe winning 2-0 to seal their place at Egypt 2019.

The Democratic Republic of Congo also qualified from the group with a 1-0 win over Liberia in Kinshasa.

Zimbabwe finished top of Group G with DR Congo second, two points adrift.

Liberia and Congo Brazzaville – who were both in contention at the start of the day – were eliminated.

With fans clamouring to get inside the stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe’s players knew what qualification for the 2019 Nations Cup meant to the Warriors’ supporters.

Khama Billiat, who plays for Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa, opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a well-struck free-kick to put Zimbabwe 1-0 up.

His Belgium-based captain Knowledge Musona added a second 16 minutes later, pouncing on a defensive error to make it 2-0 to the hosts.

Congo Brazzaville tried to get back into the match but could not overcome a powerful and resilient Warriors team.

The victory makes it back-to-back Nations Cup appearances for Zimbabwe who played at Gabon 2017 after an 11-year absence from the finals.

The Democratic Republic of Congo sealed their place in Egypt with a 1-0 win over Liberia in Kinshasa.

In a match where nerves were tested, Liberia were the team heading to the finals until the 52nd minute when China-based Cedric Bakambu made it 1-0 to the hosts.

That put DR Congo second in the table, behind Zimbabwe, and relegated Liberia to third place.

Liberia – who had requested for this fixture to be moved away from DR Congo because of concerns over Ebola – brought on Newcastle’s under-23 midfielder Mohammed Sangare in the second half as he made his international debut.

But DR Congo held firm and secured the victory they needed to go through to the finals in Egypt.

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will, for the first time, take place in June and July and will feature 24 teams rather than 16.BBC

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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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