Captain Ovidy Karuru scored a hat-trick as Zimbabwe cruised into the quarter-finals of the COSAFA Castle Cup with a commanding 6-0 victory over Seychelles in their Group B clash at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Friday.
Prince Dube also scored one and Ocean Masgure two as Zimbabwe topped their pool on goal-difference from Madagascar, who were impressive in their 4-1 win over Mozambique.
Zimbabwe finished with seven points and a goal-difference of +10, while Madagascar finished on +5.
Zimbabwe now set up a quarter-final against Swaziland at the same venue on Sunday.
The Warriors were always in control of their tie and it was perhaps a surprise it took them until midway through the first half before they broke the deadlock.
The ball reached Karuru at the back post and he rifled his shot against the bar. It was not initially clear if the ball crossed the line and Dube turned home the rebound, but the match officials later credited the goal to the skipper. He made it 2-0 two minutes later with an emphatic finish, before Dube rounded the goalkeeper to score a third in the second half.
It was one-way traffic against the tiring Seychelles side, and Karuru completed his hat-trick with a well taken header. Zimbabwe still had two more in their locker though as Mushure netted a fine double.
His first was a free-kick from a near impossible angle near the byline, and his second a neat finish on the run. Zimbabwe therefore scored 10 goals in the first round without conceding any, an ominous warning to their rivals as they seek a first title since 2009.
Madagascar failed to qualify for the quarterfinals despite going through the first round unbeaten for the second year running. Mozambique were worthy opponents, but the Malagasy more clinical in front of goal.
Claudel Fanomezana scored twice, and Ranaivoson Ndrantoharilala and Rinjala Raherinaivo once each as they romped to victory. Arnaldo grabbed a goal for The Mambas, who finished the game with 10 men after a red card for Nuno following a horror-tackle.
Saturday will see the start of the quarterfinals as four-time winners Zambia seek their first title since 2013 when they take on last year’s losing finalists Botswana.
That match kicks-off at 15h00 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium and has all the makings of a classic.
So too the second match between 2015 winners Namibia and Lesotho, who clash in the later game at 17h30 at the same venue.
Namibia have fond memories of South Africa’s North West province having lifted the title there in 2015, but will find a worthy opponent in Lesotho.
Zimbabwe 6 (Karuru 24’, 26’, 67’, Dube 57’, Mushure 85’, 90’) Seychelles 0
Mozambique 1 (Arnaldo 30’) Madagascar 4 (Fanomezana 8’, 54’, Ranaivoson 34’, Raherinaivo 79’)
Botswana vs Zambia (KO 15h00 local, 13h00 GMT) – Royal Bafokeng Stadium
Namibia vs Lesotho (KO 17h30 local, 15h30 GMT) – Royal Bafokeng Stadium
Group A P W D L GF GA Pts
Tanzania 3 1 2 0 3 1 5
Angola 3 1 2 0 1 0 5
Mauritius 3 0 2 1 1 2 2
Malawi 3 0 2 1 0 2 2
Group B P W D L GF GA Pts
Zimbabwe 3 2 1 0 10 0 7
Madagascar 3 2 1 0 6 1 7
Mozambique 3 1 0 2 3 9 3
Seychelles 3 0 0 3 1 10 0
Matches Played: 12
Goals scored: 25
Biggest victory: Zimbabwe 6 Seychelles 0 (Group B, June 30)
Most goals in a game: 6 – Zimbabwe 6 Seychelles 0 (Group B, June 30)
5 goals – Ovidy Karuru (Zimbabwe)
3 – Ocean Mushure (Zimbabwe)
2 – Claudel Fanomezana (Madagascar), Rinjala Raherinaivo (Madagascar), Yahya Ramadhani (Tanzania),
1 – Arnaldo (Mozambique), Prince Dube (Zimbabwe), Blessing Majarira (Zimbabwe), Roddy Melanie (Seychelles), Saimon Msuvu (Tanzania), Mutong (Mozambique), Ranaivoson Ndrantoharilala (Madagascar), Augusto Quibeto (Angola), Joseph Perticots (Mauritius), Ardino Raveloarisona (Madagascar), Stelio (Mozambique)