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Zebras roar back in bizarre campaign

MQONDISI DUBE
Outstanding: Cooper had a blinder for the Zebras PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
After a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Zambia last week Thursday, the Zebras remained rooted at the bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group.

Their hopes of qualifying for the 2021 AFCON finals appeared all but over. Adel Amrouche was left searching for his first win since he was thrust into the hot seat 15 months ago.

But after a gritty performance at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium on Monday, the Zebras roared back into contention after stomping on the Copper Bullets in the reverse fixture.

It has been a bizarre campaign, which has seen the Zebras go for seven matches without a win, and struggling to find the net.

In the AFCON qualifiers, the Zebras had failed to win against Zimbabwe, Algeria and Zambia, managing just one point prior to Monday’s victory.

Most of the Zebras players have been inactive since football activities were suspended in March, but it was difficult to see the cobwebs in Monday’s display, where Mothusi Cooper’s stock continued to rise. Despite the difficult start, the Zebras now find themselves in contention to be

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part of the ‘flying squad’ to Cameroon, for the 2021 tournament, which will however, be played in 2022 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Botswana’s win over Zambia meant they leapfrog their northwestern neighbour into third with four points. Amrouche’s charges are a point behind Zimbabwe, who sit second behind already qualified Algeria.

All three teams have a chance to finish third, with Botswana left with visits of Zimbabwe and to Algeria next year. Zimbabwe’s outstanding matches are against the Zebras and Zambia, and the neighbours battle it out for the remaining slot. 

The Zebras have been inactive since last year November, in a bizarre period, compounded by the outbreak of COVID-19.

However, despite the poor start, the campaign could still end in joy, if the Zebras win their match against Zimbabwe and even draw with Algeria. However, this will hinge on how Zimbabwe and Zambia fare in the remaining two matches.



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