Mighty Warriors reach Cosafa final

BULAWAYO - The Mighty Warriors remain on course to defend their Cosafa Women’s Championship title after defeating Kenya 4-0 in yesterday’s semi-final and will now meet perennial rivals Banyana Banyana in the final.

Zimbabwe defied all odds by beating the Harambee Starlets, who had been unbeaten throughout the tournament from the group stages until yesterday’s last four encounter.

Goals from the red-hot Rutendo Makore, Berita Kabwe, Priviledge Mupeti and Marjory Nyaumwe were enough to hand  Sithethelelwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda’s side a place in Sunday’s final.

After a disappointing group stage campaign in which they finished in second place behind Zambia, Sibanda was pleased with how her team had responded against the East Africans.

“Our tactical approach was to psych the players to stick to our game plan, stick to our style of play which was our weakness in the previous matches,” Sibanda said.

“Today we had a good passing game and the cohesion was much better than the previous days.”

Kenya coach Richard Mwangi Kanyi thought they had done well in the tournament despite the heavy defeat in the knockout stage.

“Looking at my players; most of them are very young so that affected our performance today,” Kanyi said.

“The good thing is they managed to reach the semi-finals which is actually a great improvement on our part.”

Zimbabwe were the better side offensively and they began the match by threatening the Kenyan goal.

It was no surprise as Makore opened the scoring in the 11th minute after turning and shooting inside the box.

It was Makore’s ninth goal of the tournament and it opened the floodgates for the Mighty Warriors’s convincing win.

Zimbabwe kept on piling the pressure on the Harambee Starlets but they had to wait until the stroke of halftime to increase their lead.

This time it was Kabwe, who took advantage of Kenya defenders’ miscommunication before drilling the ball past goalkeeper Poline Owino.

Zimbabwe increased their lead seven minutes after the break when Nyaumwe scored from a seemingly harmless free kick from the left side.

The ball eluded everyone and beat the rooted Owina who thought her defenders were going to clear.

Mupeti completed the rout for the Mighty Warriors when she scored after a beautiful solo run a minute before full time.

Meanwhile in the earlier semi-final, South Africa booked their place in the final after beating Zambia 5-3 on penalties.

The match had ended 3-3 after a dramatic comeback by South Africa that stunned the entire stadium.

Zambia had raced into a 3-0 lead after goals from Barbra Banda, Grace Chanda and Misozi Zulu.

Shepolopolo’s Rhoda Chileshe even had the luxury of missing a penalty in regulation time that could have taken the game away from South Africa.

However, Banyana Banyana showed they are a team with character after they rallied back in the last 15 minutes.

Banyana’s comeback was sparked by a Leandra Smeda goal 15 minutes before the end.

Smeda scored her second four minutes later when she converted a penalty after Chrestinah Kgatlana was fouled inside the penalty box.

The comeback was complete six minutes before the end when Banyana captain Refiloe Jane scored after she connected with a cross from Kgatlana.

South Africa were able to hold their nerve in the penalty shootout and prevailed to reach the final.

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