Zimbabwe and Rwanda Play Out Goalless Draw in 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Opener


BUTARE, Rwanda – In a clash that teemed with anticipation, Zimbabwe and Rwanda engaged in an encounter that culminated in a goalless stalemate during the opening match of Group C in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers played at Huye Stadium on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe v Rwanda goalless draw 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2023 match results
Image: @online_zifa/X

For Zimbabwe, this match marked a momentous occasion as it signaled their return to competitive football following the lifting of the FIFA ban in July. 

The game unfolded with glimpses of promise, yet genuine scoring opportunities were conspicuously scarce. 

Zimbabwe exhibited control over certain phases of the match; however, their offensive endeavors lacked the spark of creativity that could have tipped the scales in their favour.

After a cautious start, it was the hosts who injected a much-needed surge of energy into the contest, fashioning the more favorable chances during the first half. 

Forward Innocent Nshuti, a constant thorn in Zimbabwe's side, found himself in pockets of space but was either wasteful in front of goal or thwarted by the formidable center-back pairing of Teenage Hadebe and Gerald Takwara.

Rwanda continued to grow in confidence, dictating the tempo as the match progressed. Their attacking maneuvers exhibited glimpses of promise, though they failed to truly test Zimbabwe's goalkeeper, Donovan Bernard.

Zimbabwe, on the other hand, experienced a momentary glimmer of hope when substitute Terrence Dzvukamanja, who had replaced the injured Admiral Muskwe, found himself presented with two glorious opportunities. 

However, he failed to capitalize on these chances, leaving his team ruing what could have been.

Muskwe himself had an opportunity to make an impact before being forced off due to injury. Unfortunately, he lost his balance and was outmuscled by the opposition's resolute defense before he could unleash a shot from within the penalty area.

As the second half unfolded, Rwanda remained firmly in control, leaving Zimbabwe to search for an opening. 

The Warriors gradually emerged from their defensive shell, pushing their opponents deeper into their own territory. 

Despite their improved attacking intent, Zimbabwe faltered in converting the chances that fell their way.

A pivotal moment arrived when substitute Obriel Chirinda, making an early impact, set up Marshall Munetsi, who coolly found the back of the net in the 70th minute. The exhilaration, however, ephe as the goal was disallowed due to Munetsi's offside position.

Although Rwanda found themselves on the back foot in the latter stages of the game, they conjured two significant opportunities to snatch victory. 

Bonheur Mugisha's effort narrowly missed the target, while substitute Claud Niyomugabo sent his chance sailing over the crossbar, agonizingly close to breaking the deadlock.

In the end, the battle concluded with neither side able to claim the spoils, resulting in a goalless draw. 

Speaking to journalists after the match, Marshall Munetsi acknowledged that the artificial turf posed challenges for his team. 

However, he remained confident and optimistic about their performance, considering it a solid starting point for the Warriors.

"We created a lot of chances that we could have capitalized, but it's part of the game; we haven't trained much together and after having a long suspension outside of football I think this is a good starting point for us," Munetsi said. 

Despite securing only a solitary point, Munetsi expressed his team's determination, emphasizing their optimism for a triumph against Nigeria in their upcoming encounter on Sunday.

Warriors coach Baltemar Brito will undoubtedly take some pride in his team's resolute display—though an uncreative display—commending their disciplined approach and tactical astuteness. 

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