Thursday, November 21, 2019
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African World Cup qualifying: Billiat saves Zimbabwe from Somalia shock

Ed Dove

Khama Billiat

There were four goals in 15 second-half minutes as the Warriors avoided a massive shock on the road to Qatar 2022

Khama Billiat was the 92nd-minute hero for Zimbabwe as they survived an almighty scare to defeat Somalia 3-2 on aggregate, eliminating the Ocean Boys from World Cup qualifying and progress to the Second Round.

After falling to a 1-0 defeat in neutral Djibouti in the first leg, Zimbabwe were lacklustre as they looked to turn their fortunes around at the National Stadium, Harare against Africa’s lowest ranked side.

Marshall Munetsi levelled the aggregate shorelines with an overhead kick in the 77nd minute, but a horror error from Teenage Hadebe allowed Mohamed in to equalise for Somalia eight minutes later, leaving Zim needing two goals at the death to progress.

Substitute Admiral Muskwe scored a deflected free kick in the 86th minute to breathe life into the Warriors, before Billiat, capitalising on Somali’s narrow back four, slammed home a left-footed winner in the 92nd minute to secure a 3-1 victory on the day and a 3-2 aggregate triumph.

The first-leg victory had been Somalia’s first in a qualifying game since they defeated Kenya in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying in 1984, their first-ever in a World Cup qualifying campaign, and their first win of any kind since January 2009.

Despite being ranked 202nd in the world, they held the hosts—90 places above them—with a resolute defensive display in Harare, and had appeared primed to make the Second Round after Mohamed’s equaliser sent Zim to the brink of elimination.

Of the 54 African nations competing for one of five places at the global showpiece, the lowest-ranked 28 teams are contesting two-legged First Round qualifiers, with the 14 winners advancing to join the top 26 sides in 10 four-team groups.

The 10 winners of those groups will then compete in home-and-away ties for places at the tournament in Qatar.

For the first time in history, Fifa is broadcasting all of the Round One matches across the continent live on their digital platforms.  


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