The Warriors of Zimbabwe further underlined their dominance of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup tournament when they staged a super comeback to defeat Zambia 4-2 and lift their 6th title in the annual regional competition at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday (09 June) afternoon.
Khama Billiat and 22-year old Tinotenda Philana Kadewere starred in the history-making victory, each scoring a brace.
Zimbabwe drew first blood in the 4th minute when Swedish-based Kadewere who plies his trade for Djurgardens IF, found the mark. But Chipolopolo’s response came four minutes later through double scorer, Lazarous Kambole.
The teams went to the break locked at 1-all. Five minutes after the resumption of play, Kambole completed his brace to thrust Zambia into the driving seat. It looked as if Chipolopolo would lift the cup as they successfully repelled the Zimbabwean attack until the 90 minutes regulation time.
However, the Warriors’ pressure finally paid off two minutes into the referee’s optional time when Kadewere levelled matters to send the match into extra time.
Billiat, who had been the target of most tackles from the Zambian defence was sent tumbling onto the deck in the 98th minute forcing the referee to point to the spot. Up stepped Billiat to put Zimbabwe into the lead for the second time in the match.
Three minutes before the end of extra time, Billiat came back to prove why is one of the most sought-after players in the South African Premier League when he, all but crushed any faint hope of a Zambian comeback.
This is the 6th time Zimbabwe has won the COSAFA Cup while Zambia and South Africa are locked at four times apiece.
Zimbabwe coach, Sunday Chidzambwa, became the most successful coach in the COSAFA Cup history when he lifted his fourth tournament.
Madagascar attacking midfielder, Andriamirado “Dax” Andrianarimanana, was named Player of the Tournament, while Zimbabwe and Polokwane City goalkeeper, George Chigova, won the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award.
The top goalscorer prize was claimed by Botswana forward, Onkabetse Makgantai, with five goals in his side’s six games.
Zimbabwe took home R 500,000 for their tournament win, while the runners-up, Zambia, settled for R 250,000. Lesotho claimed R 150,000 for finishing third with fourth-placed Madagascar walking away R 125,000 richer.
South Africa picked up R 100,000 for their Plate final 3-0 victory over Botswana on Friday.