Controversial refereeing calls overshadowed the top of the table clash in Group B at the Cosafa Castle Cup as Zimbabwe and Madagascar played out a goalless draw on Wednesday at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.
Zimbabwe had two legitimate-looking appeals in the final five minutes waved away by referee Joshua Bondo to leave both sides still tied at the top of the standings with four points each.
Zimbabwe will take a superior goal difference into the final round of group matches on Friday, where they meet the Seychelles, while Madagascar will need a goal rush to catch up when they take on Mozambique.
Mozambique are back in the mix after a 2-1 win over Seychelles in the second game of the day, which handed them their first points, and leaves the Indian Ocean islanders eliminated.
The three second half goals also ended the drought at the stadium. It took 228 and four matches for the first goal of this year’s tournament at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace to be registered
Stelio and Joao Simango scored for the untested Mambas, who brought a development side to the tournament. The first came from captain and centre back Stelio in the 48th minute but Seychelles equalised through Roddy Melanie from close range 15 minutes later.
Giant striker Karl Hall then had his header well saved by Mozambican goalkeeper Victor before the Mambas went down the other end to restore their lead through debutant Joao Simango.
Madagascar and Zimbabwe played out a bruising battle for group dominance with both sides making chances.
Rinjala Raherinaivo missed out on a second tournament goal when he fluffed at the back post just after half-time with the Zimbabwe defence stretched.
But the drama came late when first Raphael Manuvire was hacked down in the penalty area in the 85th minute only for the referee to wave play on. Two minutes later captain Ovidy Karuru was also sent flying, this time by goalkeeper Jean Dieu Donne Randrianasolo, but again the match official said ‘no penalty’ to the consternation of the Zimbabweans.
The final Group A games are scheduled for Thursday with Angola and Tanzania chasing top place. Angola play Malawi at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace while the Taifa Stars, guests at the tournament, meet Mauritius at Moruleng Stadium. Both matches kick off at 5pm.
Zimbabwe 0 Madagascar 0
Seychelles 1 (Melanie 63’) Mozambique 2 (Stelio 48’, Mutong 70’)
Tanzania vs Mauritius (KO 17h00 local, 15h00 GMT) – Moruleng Stadium
Malawi vs Angola (KO 17h00 local, 15h00 GMT) – Royal Bafokeng Stadium
Group A P W D L GF GA Pts
Tanzania 2 1 1 0 2 0 4
Angola 2 1 1 0 1 0 4
Mauritius 2 0 1 1 0 1 1
Malawi 2 0 1 1 0 2 1
Group B P W D L GF GA Pts
Zimbabwe 2 1 1 0 4 0 4
Madagascar 2 1 1 0 2 0 4
Mozambique 2 1 0 1 2 5 3
Seychelles 2 0 0 2 1 4 0
Matches Played: 8
Goals scored: 12
Biggest victory: Mozambique 0 Zimbabwe 4 (Group B, June 26)
Most goals in a game: 4 – Mozambique 0 Zimbabwe 4 (Group B, June 26)
2 goals – Ovidy Karuru (Zimbabwe), Yahya Ramadhani (Tanzania)
1 – Blessing Majarira (Zimbabwe), Roddy Melanie (Seychelles), Ocean Mushure (Zimbabwe), Mutong (Mozambique), Augusto Quibeto (Angola), Rinjala Raherinaivo (Madagascar), Ardino Raveloarisona (Madagascar), Stelio (Mozambique)