Zambia beat Bots to win Castle Best Brew League
By Bakang Mhaladi
RUSTENBURG – Zambia Invitational are the inaugural champions of the Castle Best Brew League after defeating Botswana 3-2 on penalties in a pulsating Five-A-Side final played at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg, South Africa on Sunday.
The competition drew teams from Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with Tanzania and Namibia’s representatives absent.
Botswana proved to be the surprise package after they lost two of their three matches on the first day of the competition.
But with the second day reserved for quarter finals and the first used as a warm-up to the main tournament, Botswana appeared to learn all their mistakes to fire their way into the final.
Southern Africa’s legends, Brian Baloyi (South Africa), Rotson Kilambe (Zambia), Diphetogo Selolwane (Botswana), Emmanuel ‘Tico Tico’ Bucuane (Mozambique, Letlhogonolo Seema (Lesotho) and Tinashe Nengomasha were the Castle Best Brew League ambassadors present at the competition, and were on Sunday, save for Bucuane, drafted into their respective countries’ teams.
Zimbabwe proved to be the whipping boys and lost their quarter final match 5-0, before Botswana dismissed Lesotho 2-1 in a tight contest in the second quarterfinal.
Zambia fell to South Africa, before the Zambian Invitational beat South Africa Invitational in the fourth quarter final match.
The Zambia Invitational dumped the hosts, South Africa out of the tournament in the semi finals after Botswana had seen off favourites, Swaziland in the other semi final.
In the final, Botswana, fielding Selolwane, who was instrumental in their run to the final, appeared on course to grab the title but let a 2-0 slip with just five minutes on the clock, to allow Zambia to draw level.
The match went straight into the penalties with Botswana missing once, while Zambia converted all the chances, to spark wild celebrations from the Chipolopolo Five- A-Side team.
Despite their loss, the Botswana captain, Tsaone Makura said they had learnt a lot and had entered the competition as underdogs.
“We played well and we are glad we went all the way. We take a lot of lessons from here,” Makura said.
Kgalagadi Breweries’ Brand Manager, Mpho Motlhabane said their intention is to grow the tournament and spread to the other parts of the country, as the inaugural event’s qualifers were confined to the capital.
“It has been a great experience. We intend to go nationwide in the next campaign. The competition was exciting and we achieved what we wanted as a business. The objective is to make friends local and international. It has been a life changing opportunity for the players,” Motlhabane said.
Selolwane was excited to be part of the new regional tournament.
“It was a great experience to be part of the tournament, to be part of organised football. We expect next year to be bigger and better,” Selolwane