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Blood, tears for Mighty Bulls

THE sight of ASEC Mimosas players jumping, punching the air and lifting their coach at Rufaro will always be one to cherish.

Who could begrudge the Ivorians as they shed tears of joy after Seri Jean Michael struck the winning penalty in the team’s 4-2 penalty shootout victory that will see them advancing to the second round of the Orange Champions League at the expense of Motor Action.

Yesterday’s tie was reduced to one leg, following a ruling by the Confederation of African Football that Motor Action cannot travel to Cote d’Ivoire due to the civil war in that country.

Thousands of residents of Ivory Coast’s financial capital streamed into bus stations yesterday to flee deadly violence in Abidjan as a post-election crisis deepened.

The exodus caps a bloody week in which strongman Laurent Gbagbo, who is refusing to hand over power to the internationally recognised winner of presidential elections in November.

The odds were heavily stacked on the 1998 champions who had limited practice before travelling to Harare and arriving on Friday. ASEC Mimosas however looked ordinary on the field of play – probably due to the limited training time in their country.

However, they defied the odds with Kovakov Ndova, Patrick Irenee, Seri Jean Michael, Okov Zahvi and Stephane all on target in the penalty shootouts.

Bulls’ Edward Tembo and Masimba Mambare missed for the Mighty Bulls after Godfrey Moyo and Themba Ndlovu had found the target.

ASEC Mimosas French coach Sabastien Desabre summed up the mood of the Ivorians after the match: “It was always going to be difficult for us considering that this is just a once-off match. These are very difficult times for us. We had to give something for people back home, something to cheer about.

“I am glad that we have won the match, I knew that it was going to be difficult to beat Motor Action. I have a very youthful team at the moment and they lack experience,” he said.

His opposite number Joey Antipas was at a loss as to what had hit his side.

“I do not know how we lost the game. The players lacked composure when taking penalty kicks. That is all I can say,” he said.

However, Motor Action have all but themselves to blame as they played without conviction with the usually reliable trio of Musharu, Enasio Perezo and Edmore Chitato being the chief culprits.

Midfielder Allen Gahadzikwa was anonymous in the middle of the park.

The Bulls could have found the opener as early as the second minute but Perezo’s header off a Kuda Musharu cross from the left hit the upright with goalkeeper Yeboah Daniel Techi a beaten man.

The visitors had their moments too as they came close in the 8th minute, but Irenee’s powerful strike from the edge of the box found goalkeeper Marlon Jani at his best.

Chitato came close to notching the opener for his side in the 20th minute, but his lob from outside the box was parried off for corner by Techi.

ASEC players were content with defending in the first half but they came back a more purposeful side in the second half in which they managed to hold the boring home side.  

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