Zimbabwe wrapped up third place at the 2019 COSAFA Women’s Championship with another accomplished performance as they cruised to a 3-0 victory over the 10 players of Botswana at the Wolfson Stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay on Saturday.
It is the first time Zimbabwe have claimed the bronze medal in the competition, having won a gold and two silvers in the past, and they can be proud of a solid showing at the championship where they were only beaten by hosts South Africa in the semifinals.
Goals in the second period from Felistas Muzongondi (two) and Mavis Chirandu sealed the victory as Zimbabwe proved the more clinical side on the day and might have won by a greater margin.
Botswana ended the game with 10 players after a red card for Lone Gaofetoge with a little over 20 minutes to go, the first sending-off of what has otherwise been a very ‘clean’ tournament.
Zimbabwe were on top from the first whistle but battled to turn their dominance into goals in the opening half.
But once Muzongondi had them in front three minutes after the break, they followed that up with a quick second to kill off the hopes of Botswana as Chirandu netted for a fourth time in the championship.
It was plain sailing from there as the Mighty Warriors kept the ball and created a few clear-cut opportunities, and added to their score through a second in injury-time from Muzongondi.
The final of the COSAFA Women’s Championship will be played on Sunday at the Wolfson Stadium at 14h00 (12h00) as hosts South Africa seek a hat-trick of titles when they take on Zambia.
The home side have looked the more accomplished throughout the competition, even without their overseas-based stars, but Zambia will be a stern test of their strength in depth.
South Africa have won five of the six COSAFA Women’s Championship finals played, including the last two, while coach Desiree Ellis is unbeaten in 14 previous matches she has coached in the competition, winning 12 with two draws.
That includes the tournament and team record 17-0 thrashing of Comoros Islands earlier on in this year’s even in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Zambia are appearing in their first final having three times before claimed the bronze medal, ensuring that whatever happens in the decider, this will be their best ever finish.
Meanwhile, South Africa claimed the bronze medal in the COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship after they triumphed 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out following a 1-1 draw with Zimbabwe.
It was an evenly contested game with few clear-cut chances, but the home side held their nerve in the shoot-out to grab the win.
Miche Minnies had two excellent chances to open the score for South Africa when she first shot wide and then saw her goal-bound effort cleared off the line.
The home team took the lead though when prolific forward Shakeerah Jacobs netted her fourth goal of the campaign just before halftime to move joint top of the scorers charts. They might have hoped to hold on to that success to the break, but allowed Zimbabwe a leveler when Praynence Zvawanda pounced on a defensive error to score.
Tshegofatso Motlogelwa had an excellent opportunity put South Africa in friont in the second period, but shot wide, while Jacobs could have also added a second with more clinical finishing.
The match went to penalties and eventually sudden death, before Zimbabwe goalkeeper Cynthia Shonga missed her spot-kick and South Africa claimed the win.
The final of the inaugural COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship will be played on Sunday when Zambia meet East African guest nation Tanzania at the Wolfson Stadium at 10h00 (08h00).
Tanzania are seeking to become the first guest nation in any COSAFA tournament to go home with the trophy, but standing in their way are a powerful Zambian side who beat them 2-1 in the pool stages.
It is sure to be an epic decider and fitting end to what has been a magnificent competition.