Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE and South Africa resume their rivalry tomorrow when they meet in the COSAFA Women’s Championships final at Barbourfields as the tournament reaches its climax.
The hosts thrashed Kenya 4-0 in the semi-finals on Thursday to set a date with three-time champions South Africa who had earlier on overpowered Zambia 5-3 on penalties.
The match had ended in a 3-3 stalemate in regulation time.
In their last meeting in this tournament, in 2011, the Mighty Warriors prevailed over Banyana Banyana in the final to be crowned champions for the first time.
South Africa had dominated the competition claiming the championship in 2002 after beating Zimbabwe in the final.
They went on to defend their title in 2006 and 2008 before Zimbabwe put an end to their dominance in the regional tournament in 2011.
And tomorrow the two countries that represented the Africa at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, will battle it out at Barbourfields in what Mighty Warriors coach, Sithethelelwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda said is going to be a “blockbuster of a final.”
“Obviously it’s a very crucial meet, it’s going to be a blockbuster of a final. It has always been a 50-50 situation between Zimbabwe and South Africa because we more or less play the same type of football, passing football.
“But at the end of the day we are expecting a tough encounter but we are equally prepared for it,” said Sibanda.
Zimbabwe made the semi-finals as the best-placed runners-up after coming second behind Zambia in Group A.
They beat Madagascar before they drew against Zambia and Malawi.
It was also exciting to see upcoming forward Priviledge Mupeti scoring her first goal in the tournament, as well as Marjory Nyaumwe and Berita Kabwe, with the team having relied on Rutendo Makore, who scored eight goals in the group games.
Makore took her tally to nine when she scored the opening goal in the game against Kenya.
“I think we had a great improvement from the competitive group stages. We implemented our type of play well and the girls really gave it their all.
‘‘And we dominated Kenya and managed to shut their dangerous areas and they failed to rise from there.
“So I think they just had the mental strength plus looking at our tactical play, I think our cohesion from all departments, there was a little bit of improvement.
“The fans have been tremendous. They have been supporting us, even if we were down. At times we looked like we were down but they kept supporting. So going into the final really we don’t want to put ourselves under much pressure.
‘‘We have been taking each game as it comes and so far, here we are, we have done well. So we are expecting a good game,” Sibanda said.
While waiting for the final tomorrow, football fans have something to look forward to today as Zambia and Kenya clash in the third-and-fourth place play-off at Barbourfields.
Today: Zambia vs Kenya (1pm at Barbourfields).
Tomorrow: South Africa vs Zimbabwe (3pm at Barbourfields).