Zimbabwe stroll past Zambia to lift Cosafa Cup
Zimbabwe shrugged off the toil of a frenetic programme of six games inside two weeks to put neighbours Zambia to the sword to win the 2017 Cosafa Castle Cup final at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Sunday.
The 3-1 victory came at the end of a schedule that demanded massive physical exertion but the strength of the Zimbabweans ensured an impressive 3-1 win over their northern neighbours.
They are now the first country to win the annual southern African championship five times despite ignominy of having to the start this tournament alongside the minnows in the first week.
Knox Mutizwa‚ Talent Chawapiwa and Ocean Mushure scored after Zambia had equalised through Lubinda Mundia just before the break to make it 1-1 at half-time.
Zimbabwe had five South African-based players in their team and the added quality proved the deciding factor in the end over an exclusively home-based Zambian side‚ devoid of any of their foreign-based talent as well as players from Zanaco and Zesco United‚ their top two teams who were involved in African club competition games.
A lively crowd‚ made up largely of Zimbabwean expatriates‚ spoilt the end of game presentation with a pitch invasion but authorities quickly got matters back under control.
Zimbabwe’s opener for the Lamontville Golden Arrows striker Mutizwa came as the result of poor goalkeeping as Zambia’s Allan Chibwe looked static waiting to collect a high ball. Mutizwa‚ not exactly endowed with height‚ out-jumped him to get a touch off his shoulder and put it into the net after 22 minutes.
A second chance for Mutizwa some eight minutes later was saved by Chibwe but Zimbabwe should have been 2-0 up just past the half-hour mark when Ocean Mushire went agonisingly close with a free-kick.
Zambia were back in the contest after a horror clash of heads saw Mike Katiba forced to go off. His replacement‚ Mundia‚ came off the bench in the 39th minute to equalise with his first touch of the game in a dream start.
But Zambia faded after the break as man-of-the match Chawapiwa kept them on the back foot with his runs on the right.
He put Zimbabwe back ahead in the 56th minute with a powerful follow-up strike after Mutizwa had struck the upright with a header.
And then Chawapiwa set up a third for defender Ocean Mushure‚ pulling the ball back into the path of the 32-year-old‚ who made no mistake.
The win kept up the record of former Black Leopards coach Sunday Chidzamba in the tournament in charge of the Zimbabwean side. He won the 2003 and 2009 editions and is now unbeaten in the 15 matches he has been in charge.