The Zimbabwe Mighty Warriors finally broke the long-awaited duck and dispatched South Africa to clinch the Cosafa Women’s Championship at a packed Rufaro yesterday.
It was the free scoring Mighty Warriors hotshot Rufaro Machingura’s 85th minute goal that took the stuffing out of Banyana Banyana and made sure the regional crown remains in the country.
The match started well with the hosts showing some intent with Rudo Neshamba and Nokuthula Ndlovu taking turns to test the Banyana Banyana keeper.
The defending champions came crawling back and caused some anxious moments when Yola Jafta’s slick header was cleared off the line by Nobuhle Majika after 13 minutes.
The usually dangerous Noko Matlou also probed the Zimbabwean rearguard on 28 minutes but her shot was cleared by impressive defender Danai Bhobho. Janine Van Wyk also had her moments but she repeatedly blazed her efforts wide off the post.
The Mighty Warriors made some intelligent moves in the last 15 minutes with Neshamba, Machingura and midfield workaholic Marjory Nyaumwe heavily involved but on most occasions found the Banyana Banyana defence unyielding.
Towards half-time, South Africa almost surged ahead but captain Amanda Dlamini was denied from point blank range by Zimbabwe goalminder Onai Chingawo on 42 minutes. Two minutes later Robyn Moodlay skied her effort after he had been well-fed by Dlamini.
After the interval, the Mighty Warriors injected urgency into their play and Tsitsi Mairosi became more involved after strategically playing out of her position in the first period. Ruvimbo Mutyavaviri almost thrust Zimbabwe in front but her curling free kick sailed fractionally wide.
South Africa almost scored on 77 minutes from a Sikazi corner which Van Wyk blasted to the terraces. It needed an element of brilliance to win this final and the Mighty Warriors got that five minutes from time.
From a Mairosi cross, Neshamba shrugged off a challenge from Thokozile Mndaweni and stroked an overhead kick for the towering Machingura who made no mistake to head home to ignite wild celebrations in the stadium. The goal ensured the Mighty Warriors broke the hoodoo over their neighbours and made a befitting honour to the 13 fans who died in the National Sports Stadium disaster 11 years ago on July 9.
Beside Zimbabwe being crowned champions Machingura won the Golden Boot after notching eight goals while Chingawo was voted the goalkeeper of the tournament. Van Wyk was named the player of the tournament while Tanzania won the Fair Play award.
Meanwhile, Tanzania scooped the bronze medal after clobbering Malawi 3-0 in the third place playoff earlier in the day. Goals came from star striker Asha Sada Rashid who grabbed a double and Mwahamisi Omary Shuruwa.Rashid, who later was ferried to hospital after a horrific injury, scored from a corner in the 7th minute and slided home a second three minutes later. Shuruwa completed the rout after 35 minutes by cleverly rounding the keeper.