Banyana crowned Cosafa champions

BULAWAYO - Banyana Banyana emerged the 2017 Cosafa Women Champions after they dislodged cup holders Mighty Warriors 2-1 in the final match played here yesterday.

South Africa always looked dangerous going up front with some beautiful build-ups from the midfield while Zimbabwe resorted to the long ball looking for Rutendo “Madzimai” Makore which never worked well for them.

South Africa coach Ellis “Dumpy” Desiree was impressed by the performance of her team.

“We have a team that has a never say die attitude. Even though we had a tough semi-final they proved that they wanted it more than Zimbabwe wanted it,” Desiree said after the match.

“I think in the beginning Zimbabwe played with a bit of fear and we capitalised on that. We knew the pressure of playing at home and pressure of playing in front of their home crowd could get the best of them and it sort of did.”

Her opposite number Mighty Warriors coach Sithethelelwe “Kwinji 15” Sibanda thought her team did well despite the loss.

“It was a great game. As we expected, it was a blockbuster of a final. We started shaky especially in the first half and we conceded a goal,” said Sibanda.

“We came back stronger in the second half. For the better part of the second half our players were a bit better though we didn’t manage to win. The players put up a splendid performance.”

The match started on a high tempo with both teams pressing high to try and outshine each other.

South Africa almost opened the scoring 24 minutes into the match when speedy Chrestinah Athembie Kgatlana dribbled past three defenders but she hit her shot against Lynett Mutokuto inside the penalty box.

South Africa failed to utilise a clear opportunity after 34 minutes when they beat the Mighty Warriors’ offside trap but Kgatlana’s shot hit goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai and came back into play.

Kgatlana was a thorn in the flesh the whole afternoon for the Mighty Warriors defence with her dazzling pace and dribbling skill. The jittery Mighty Warriors defence of Mutokuto and Mirriam Majika struggled to contain her.

Four minutes later Mabane Mbane had her effort cleared out for a corner by the fully diving Dzingirai after Mighty Warriors failed to clear a corner kick.

South Africa finally broke the deadlock at the stroke of half time through speedy strike Kgatlana who got a through ball from Chantelle Esau, outpaced Majika before slotting the ball past the exposed Dzingirai.  

In the second half Zimbabwe tried to come back into the match but they really lacked creativity offensively. Mighty Warriors chief striker Makore was kept under lock and key by Noko Matlou who made sure she never received the ball unattended.

Zimbabwe looked clueless on finding ways to break the Banyana Banyana defence which stood resolute the whole afternoon.

Makore finally managed to break the Banyana defence 73 minutes into the match. She rose high to head a Sheila Makoto cross from the left into the back of the net to send the packed Barbourfields Stadium into jubilation.

South Africa broke the hearts of the thousands who had come to support Zimbabwe a minute before full time.

Chantelle Esau dribbled past Majika on the left side of attack before sending in a cross that met an unmarked Leandra Smeda.

Smeda produced a diving header that hit the upright post on its way to crossing the line to assure Banyana Banyana a sweet revenge.

Other Awards

Fair Team: Kenya

Goalkeeper of the tournament: Chido Dzingirai (Zimbabwe)

Top goal scorer: Rutendo “Madzimai” Makore (10 goals) (Zimbabwe)

Player of the tournament: Chrestinah Athembie Kgatlana (South Africa)

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