Mighty Warriors fail to defend title

It was a gruesome championship encounter at Babourfields stadium in Bulawayo on Sunday, as two Southern African women football giants faced off in the final of the Women’s COSAFA Cup. Zimbabwe‘s Mighty Warriors were hoping to defend their title whereas South Africa’s Banyana Banyana were looking forward to making it four titles.

 By Daniel Itai

Both teams started off with so much hunger for the prestigious regional tournament. The Mighty Warriors could have drawn the first blood in the first 20 minutes but blew the chances away.

Banyana Banyana became wary of what was at stake and took charge of the beautiful game. The Mighty Warriors’s defense was kept at its toes with Zimbabwean goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai stepping up in a couple of encounters.

However, Dzingirai failed to keep Chrestinah Kgatlana from the score sheet in the 46th minute who netted the opener courtesy of Leandra Smeda’s effort and the Mighty Warriors went to the break trailing.

The goal seemed to have rumbled the Mighty Warriors as evidenced by the physical game that they were now exhibiting at the start of the second half.

On the other hand, Banyana Banyana were vying for a second one to perhaps wrap up the match but the defense of the Mighty Warriors wouldn’t have any of that.

However, Mighty Warriors’s top goal scorer Rutendo Makore stood up once again to the occasion and headed in a powerful goal courtesy of Sheila Makoto in the 73rd minute to level the matters.

The goal by Makore sent the stadium into a frenzy and the moral of the Mighty Warriors seemed to have been heightened.

Banyana Banyana remained composed with only one thing going through their minds, clenching the silverware.

As the game approached its dying moments, it pretty much seemed as if the only way to settle the two teams’ differences was through a penalty shoot-out.

However, Smeda snatched victory for Banyana Banyana in the 90th minute as a result of a cross from Chantelle Esau.

There was little the Mighty Warriors could do to salvage the situation. As a result of this, the Mighty Warriors succumbed to a 2-1 defeat.

Banyana Banyana now have four COSAFA titles and the first for Coach, Desiree Ellis. Earlier on, Zambia managed to edge Kenya by 4 goals to 2 in a penalty shoot-out and acquired the third place, after the game had ended 1-1 in full time.

Rutendo Makore was awarded with the golden boot award after having netted 10 goals and Chido Dzingirai was given the golden glove.

Player of the tournament was presented to Banyana Banyana’s Chrestinah Kgatlana. Tournament invitee, Kenya were given the fair play award.

Starting lineup

Banyana Banyana

Andile Dlamini, Lebogang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Noko Matlou, Chantelle Esau, Chrestinah Kgatlana, Bambanani Mbane, Kholosa Biyana, Refiloe Jane (C), Leandra Smeda, Rhoda Mulaudzi (Nompumelelo Nyandeni 87′)

Mighty Warriors

Chido Dzingirai, Lynett Mutokuto, Sheila Makoto, Nobuhle Majika, Berita Kabwe, Talent Mandaza (C), Priviledge Mupeti, Marjory Nyaumwe, Eunice Chibanda, (Daisy Kaitano 65′) Rutendo Makore, Danai Bhobho

Tongai Mwenje

Tongai Mwenje is a Senior Editor with Zimbabwe's largest online sports magazine Sportbrief www.sportbrief.co.zw. He has been writing professionally since 2012 and currently writes for technology and sport blogs. He has vast experience in digital marketing, sports reporting and analysis. He is also a Sports and Technology columnist with Financial Gazette Online Sports Column and Technology Magazine respectively.

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