Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE once again played second fiddle to South Africa at the COSAFA Women’s Championship that ended on Sunday in Bulawayo but coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda has heaped praises on her team.
The hosts were the title holders going into Sunday’s final and hopes were high they would repeat the same feat as in 2011 when they lifted the trophy on home soil, beating South Africa 1-0 at Rufaro.
However, it was a different case this time around with Banyana Banyana grabbing a last minute 2-1 win at Barbourfields to take their tally to four titles having won the championship in 2002, 2006 and 2008.
It was Zimbabwe who put an end to their dominance in the regional tournament in 2011 and the defending champions were seeking to retain the title.
But South Africa were the better team of the day on Sunday.
Mighty Warriors coach Sibanda said although they could not defend the title, her charges did their best.
“We did very well, our team played their hearts out. It was a great game obviously but you know at times they would lose concentration in the dying minutes of the game.
“That happens in football especially when you are not always playing games.
“But they played a great game I would say that, it was really a great game. Unfortunately, we lost at the end of the day. I thought we did very well,” Sibanda said.
While the senior women side lost, there were some positives to take from the tournament with striker Rutendo Makore coming out the top goal scorer of the competition after netting 10 goals for Zimbabwe.
And Chido Dzingirai was the goalkeeper of the tournament.
“It shows that we have got quality. We have got players that can really compete with the rest of the continent I would say.
“We just need to invest in nurturing our talent because we have got the players really so it’s shown by those individual awards,” added Sibanda.
Going into the regional tournament the Mighty Warriors had last competed at the Africa Women Cup of Nations held last year between November and December in Cameroon.
The Mighty Warriors gaffer underscored the need to keep the national teams from junior level active and pointed out that the major difference with their arch rivals is mainly on development.
“We have got quality but it’s about development. South Africa has got better development than us. Ours we have got talent but we are not really starting from grassroots. So, that’s what makes them different from us.
“Probably, just keeping the team in shape, not just assembling the team because there are certain games, keeping the team in shape playing friendly matches and also having a vibrant junior league.
“And also having junior national teams participating in competitions so that our players get exposure from the junior national level such that when they get to the senior national level they are already exposed to international matches,” said Sibanda.