By Muambo Edward
Football Writer, Cameroon
Somalia’s hopes of reaching the group stage of World Cup qualifying for the first time were dashed against the wall by a dramatic late goal in Harare.
Somalia game into this game with a surprising 0-1 lead from the first leg.
That win against Zimbabwe in the first leg was a first win for the Ocean Stars after a run of 19 successive defeats in World Cup qualification.
Zimbabwe only came to live at the dying moments of the game when midfielder Marshall Munetsi put them ahead to level the tie at the 77th minutes.
Somalia drew inspiration from the first leg win and put up a brilliant fight back. They got a deserved equalizer at 84th minute through Omar Abdullah Mohamed.
But barely two after that, Admiral Muskwe put the home team back in front , making it 2-2 overall, Somalia were still set to progress on away goals.
The Warriors of Zimbabwe had to dig very deep for a third goal; it came at the 92nd minute, through the ever reliable Khama Billiat.
The goal came like an arrow through the hearts of the Somali players and their supporters, never before had they been this close to the group stage of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The Warriors go through on a 3-2 aggregate score to the great delight of their partisan home supporters.
In other results elsewhere, Gerlad Phiri’s 81st minute penalty saw Malawi through against the Zebras of Botswana on a 1-0 aggregate score line after both teams played to a virgin draw in the first leg.
Eswatini failed to overturn their one goal deficit against Djibouti. Their game ended goalless at the Mavuso Sports Centre, meaning Djibouti progress into the second round with a 2-1 aggregate score, thanks to their home win.
Mozambique maintained their superiority over Mauritius with a 2-0 win, thanks to goals from Clesio and Geny Catamo in the second leg. They progressed on a 3-0 aggregate score line.
In Luanda, Angola earned a 2-1 win over The Gambia, to progress on a 3-1 overall score.
Togo made light work of the Comoros Islands with a 3-1 aggregate score after a comfortable 2-0 victory at home in Lome.
The Seychelles were humiliated 7-0 by Rwanda, meaning they lost 10-0 over both legs. They simply did not exist in the tie.
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