Zim Warriors seal record COSAFA Castle Cup Triumph
Petros Kausiyo in SUN CITY, South Africa
Zimbabwe ………(1) 3
Zambia ………….(0) 1
SUNDAY Chidzambwa paid glowing tribute to his players as five-star Warriors turned on the style once again to power Zimbabwe to a record-breaking fifth COSAFA Castle Cup soccer title that left history-making coach purring at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace yesterday.
Chidzambwa, who won his third COSAFA Castle Cup title, described yesterday’s win over their old enemies Zambia as special especially against the taxing programme they had to undergo in order to claim a deserved win over Chipolopolo.
Goals each by Knox Mutizwa after 22 minutes, Talent Chawapiwa in the 56th and Ocean Mushure 10 minutes later set the Warriors on their record-breaking feat.
Substitute Lubinda Mundia, scoring with his first touch after coming on for the injured Mike Katiba, had levelled the terms for Chipolopolo in the 39th minute.
But the Zambians, who like Zimbabwe jointly shared the record of four titles along with hosts South Africa, could not withstand the Warriors attacking qualities that have been the hallmark of Chidzambwa’s team in this campaign.
The Warriors have been imperious and in the second stanza they simply upped the tempo and their coach described the Class of 2017 as “special in their own right’’.
Chidzambwa has previously won the competition in 2003 and 2009. But the 65-year-old coach reckoned that his successes on those previous occasions had been made easier by the environment in which they competed and the quality of the players he had at the time.
Chidzambwa also reckoned that Zambia had given his charges a tough game and felt their precision in front of goal was the biggest difference in deciding the winner.
“It feels great to be winning the cup again but it was not an easy game.
“To me it was anyone’s game and it was about who took their chances and I think we took our chances well.
“I want to thank the players for the way they fought and to our supporters for the way they came in numbers from the first game of the tournament.
“Unlike on the previous occasions, I think this is more special in that when we won in 2003 over Malawi we had very good players like Peter Ndlovu and others and we had enough time to prepare. The final was played home and away and it was easy to win.
“In 2009 we were at home and we had the home advantage and you know the Warriors supporters can be very intimidating when we are at home and that helped us a lot.
“For this third tournament the boys really worked hard and we had to pay a tough six games in a short space of time and I must say there is need to review the format and have all the teams starting at the group stage.
“Imagine if this game had gone into extra time, we would have felt the strain more but fortunately for us we have been scoring goals in regulation time,’’ Chidzambwa said.
Ecstatic Warriors fans some of whom had travelled from various provinces around Zimbabwe to join those based in South Africa in rallying behind their team were jolted from their seats when Golden Arrows man Mutizwa headed their team in front of a fine cross from the left by Honest Moyo. It was Mutizwa’s fifth goal of the competition and his goals seemed to have swayed the selectors to choose the former Highlanders forward as a somewhat surprise choice for Player of the tournament accolade.
Skipper Ovidy Karuru might not have found the target in the final but his six goals which powered the team in the group stages proved enough to win the tournament’s top soccer accolade.
It actually ended a one, two and three for Zimbabwe as Mutizwa, who found the opener after 22 minutes, finished with five while Dynamos skipper Ocean Mushure ended with four goals after weighing in with the third for Zimbabwe that seemed to deflate the Chipolopolo spirits.
Mutizwa, who had a slow start before finding his touch, scored in the quarter-final, semis and yesterday’s decider.
The awards underlined Zimbabwe’s dominance in this competition where the Warriors have also been the best supported team. Ecstatic Warriors fans had already burst into song by the time Mauritian referee Ahmad Heeralall signalled that he would add three minutes of his optional time.
Once Mushure struck the insurance goal in the 66th minute, the Warriors kept Zambia under siege, pressing them high and ensured there would not be the kind of let- up they had exhibited against Lesotho in a 4-3 semi-final victory. Chawapiwa was having a dream final in which he was unplayable on the right channel and forced Zambian coach Wedson Nyirenda into making a 63rd minute substitution of his left-back Lawrence Chungu
The FC Platinum winger kept the supply line open for the Warriors attack and was unfortunate to have his game curtailed in the 79th minute after he was hacked down by Webster Mulenga and injured his ankle and Michelle Katsvairo replacing him two minutes later. The Warriors, odds-on favourites to win this tournament after an awesome attacking prowess that had fired 16 goals up to the semi-final stage, took their competition statistics to 19 goals scored and five conceded, earning the respect of losing coach Nyirenda.
“I have been watching Zimbabwe from the first game and I must say excellent work by this team. They came prepared and were very well coordinated and mature. I think for Zambia this was a successful trip to South Africa as we brought in a young team of locally based players and we were missing 16 players from ZESCO and Zanaco who were involved in CAF competitions.
“This has given us a lot of hope that our objective of building a new Chipolopolo is on course,’’ Nyirenda said. (source: The Herald)