“#Zimbabwe” He arrived for this match and he also stood up very late into the match to score a late goal that made the difference and one that sparred Zimbabwe’s blushes rescuing a World Cup dream that was threatening to end in an embarrassing fashion.
By the time Khama Billiat scored the winning goal two minutes into referee’s optional time, non-believers in the National Sports Stadium had started to troop out thinking it was all over for the Warriors.
Those that stayed behind did so all in hope rather than real conviction that the tie could be saved with Somalia having equalised on 85 minutes to leave Zimbabwe seeking a further two goals for them to progress to the Group stage of the 2022 World Cup whose finals will be staged in Qatar.
Somalia had levelled the scores through dangerous forward Omali Abdull who capitalised on a defensive error by Alec Mudimu on 85 minutes after Marshall Munetsi had given Zimbabwe the lead with bicycle kick from a corner kick on 82 minutes.
With the scores at 1-1 on 85 minutes Zimbabwe needed a miracle or maybe a magician and in Billiat they sure had one.
Although Mutizwa thrust Zimbabwe back into the lead two minutes from full time from a free kick outside the penalty area, it was unthinkable they would claw back and book a ticket to the group stage.
Billiat however, ensured Zimbabwe’s qualification with a perfect finish, dancing past one defender and then arrowed the ball into the far right corner, with his left foot.
Billiat arrived in the country the day before the match and never trained with his teammates, as Antipas decided to call out one of the country’s best players following the surprise defeat in the first leg.
The goal was greeted with jubiliation by fans whose dejection was instantly wiped off their faces with a huge sense of relief sinking in.
With Zimbabwe’s chances precariously poised, they needed a moment of magic when Billiat found the top corner of the goal.
Coach Joey Antipas who for long faced the ignominy of being booted out by the lowest ranked team on the continent was a relieved man after the match.
“I am quite happy to win against the so called small team.
There are no more small teams in football. It was difficult but we dominated the entire match and created chances.
They (Somalia) sat back and relied on counter attacks.
They got an opportunity and scored, it became difficult for us but we kept probing and pushing.
It was that belief which gave us the victory. I am happy with the team, they have only been together for two days. If the team can have more time together it can improve,” said Antipas.
Somalia coach Bashir Hayford said:
It’s a great opportunity for the Somalia national team to be part of the World Cup qualifiers. Many countries underrate Somalia and now we are coming up .
WE knew the opposition was tough because we all watched Zimbabwe at the Africa Cup of Nations so we knew it was not an easy task.”
Zimbabwe: E Chipezeze, D Lunga, A Mudimu, T Hadebe, I Nekati, M Munetsi, O Karuru, K Billiat, E Rusike (T Dzukamanja ’89), C Augusto (K Mutizwa ’58), K Mahachi
Somalia: Said Ali, Yonis Farah, Mohamud Mohamed, Ahmed Ahmed, Abel Mohamed, Ahmed Mohamed, Abdulaziz Yousef (Abas Mohamed, 61st minute), Abdulsamed Abdullahi, Anwar Shakunda, O ah Mohamed, Hussein Mohamed (Eyman hussein, 75th minute)