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Tuesday 10 September 2019

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FILE: Khama Billiart in action ...

The Zimbabwe Warriors are through to the group stages of the 2022 World Cup qualifying rounds after overcoming a 1-0 first leg deficit by thumping Somalia 3-1 at the National Sports Stadium and sail through 3-2 on goal aggregate.

A goal from Marshall Munetsi and a double by Khama Billiart ensured that the Warriors are safe and comfortable and gave coach Joey Antipas something to smile about in his second game in charge of Zimbabwe’s flagship football team.

The victory is also a welcome relief to millions of the Warriors followers who had to endure the frustration of watching their team lose game after game since the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.

“We can now smile. It has been hard for us to watch our Warriors lose every game they took part in. I think, we are now on the right track,” said William Mahoko, a member of the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters’ Association.

The Warriors are now waiting for the group stages draw, to be conducted by Fifa, to know the nation they will face as they seek a maiden appearance at the global football festival.

Zimbabwe missed out of the 2018 World Cup after the country was thrown out by Fifa following the failure by the Zimbabwe Football Association to pay then Warriors coach Jose ‘Valinhos’ Claudinei Georgini his salary.

The Warriors also have 2021 Africa Cup of Nations engagements in which they are in the same group with Africa champions, Algeria, Botswana, and Zambia. Two teams from the group qualify for the finals to be held in Cameroon.

Vice President of Zimbabwe, Kembo Mohadi (Centre) and the Zimbabwean officials arrive at the Singapore Casket Funeral Parlour on Tuesday,10th September 2019 in Singapore.

Relatives and government officials attended a mass for Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe in Singapore Tuesday, after arriving in the country where he died, to collect his body.

Mugabe who swept to power after Zimbabwe's independence from Britain and went on to rule for 37 years until he was ousted in 2017, died on Friday, aged 95.

His health deteriorated after he was toppled by the military and former loyalists in November 2017, ending an increasingly tyrannical rule that sent the economy into ruin.

"When he was 93-94 he was able to walk but the speed with which he deteriorated after the coup is just incredible and I can imagine what he was going through and that’s why I am saying, he rested," said nephew, Leo Mugabe.

Family members and officials arrived in Singapore, where Mugabe had been since April, early Tuesday on a chartered flight. They are due to fly out with his body at around 8:30 am Wednesday, said his nephew Adam Molai.

The group, who included Vice President Kembo Mohadi, attended a private Catholic mass for Mugabe at the funeral parlor where his body is, officiated by a Zimbabwean priest.

The mood at the service was "sombre, everybody is sad", said Molai.

"I will always remember the immense, immense contribution he made not only to the people of Zimbabwe but to the people of Africa," he said.
Asked whether Mugabe had been bitter about being ousted, he said: "Everybody is human. When you go through an experience of that sort, of course you feel pain," Molai said.

On arrival in Zimbabwe, Mugabe's body will be taken straight to his village in Kutama, in Zvimba district west of the capital Harare, for an overnight wake.

On Thursday and Friday the body will lie in state at Rufaro Stadium in Mbare township in Harare -- where Mugabe took his oath of office -- for the public to pay their final respects.

The official funeral will be held on Saturday at the giant 60,000-seat National Sports Stadium in Harare and foreign leaders are expected to attend.

The location of the burial remains unclear, with Mugabe's family and President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government appearing at odds over whether it would be at his homestead in Mashonalane West, or at a shrine for liberation heroes in the capital.

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