ZIMBABWE put up a tactically disciplined performance to claim a fifth Cosafa Castle Cup title at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng near Rustenburg, South Africa, yesterday.
The unheralded Talent Chawapiwa was simply in a class of his own in yesterday’s finale, with the FC Platinum winger, who was sadly taken out injured in the 81st minute, terrorising the Zambians every time he was in possession of the ball.
He also registered his name on the score sheet before turning provider for Zimbabwe’s third goal scored by Ocean Mushure. Although he was forced out by injury, Chawapiwa deservedly won the man of the match accolade.
The Warriors took the lead in the 21st minute through Knox Mutizwa’s flick header against the run of play following a barrage of attacks by the Zambians.
Zambia, who clearly wanted an early goal to unsettle the Warriors, managed to equalise in a rather bizarre manner when the Warriors failed to track substitute Lubinda Mundia when he came on for the injured Mike Katiba six minutes before half time.
The Zambians had just won a free kick and the Red Arrows man ghosted in to head the ball past big goalkeeper George Chigova.
Mutizwa’s opener was orchestrated by Chigova’s goal kick, which fell to Orlando Pirates target Honest Moyo, who immediately flighted an in-swinger into the box that saw Mutizwa rising high to delicately nod home past a jittery Allan Chibwe in goal for Zambia.
It was probably his knack for scoring goals and his great positioning throughout the tournament that saw Mutizwa being voted player of the tournament.
The lead seemed to shock the Zambians, who momentarily lost their rhythm and could have been punished further on the half hour mark had Mutizwa’s side kick not gone wide from close range after a brilliant move by the Warriors orchestrated by the lively Chawapiwa.
The neighbouring countries went to the breather deadlocked 1-1 and upon resumption of the second half, Mutizwa could have shot Zimbabwe into the lead again in the 49th minute, but he failed to beat Chibwe in a face-to-face situation after defender Webster Mulenga had lost possession in the final third.
Backed by a strong crowd of close to 10 000 consisting of mainly Zimbabweans and sympathisers, the Warriors duly regained the lead in the 56th minute through the slippery Chawapiwa.
A cross from the left side by Mushure fell to Mutizwa, whose header was punched back into play by Chibwe, but only as far as Chawapiwa, who responded with a grounder to eject the Zimbabwean bench from their seats.
Chawapiwa then turned provider 10 minutes later when he roasted his marker and sent in a cross that was met by the unmarked Mushure, who blasted the ball home with his weaker right foot.
The Zambians again took the game to the Warriors, but could not breach the defence, although Chigova should be credited for his one-handed save a minute before fulltime to deny Godfrey Ngwenya from close range.
An elated Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa hailed his boys’ fighting spirit and also sportingly conceded that the Zambians had given them a good run.
“It was a question of who took their chances more than the other, which I think we did,” said the revered Chidzambwa, who has now won his third Cosafa Cup tournament and still remains unbeaten.
His Zambian counterpart Wedson Nyirenda blamed his side for making “schoolboy blunders”.
Zambia: Allan Chibwe, Lawrence Chungu(Bonston Muchindu 64th min) Adrian Chama, Mwila Phiri(Godfrey Ngwenya 70th min) Justin Shonga, Donashano Malama, Mike Katiba( Lubinda Mundia 39th min) Jackson Chirwa, Webster Mulenga, Isaac Shamujompa, Brian Mwila
Zimbabwe: George Chigova, Ocean Mushure, Eric Chipeta, Jimmy Tigere, Talent Chawapiwa (Mitchelle Katvairo 81st min)Gerald Takwara, Ovidy Karuru, Bruce Homora, Knox Mutizwa, Honest Moyo, Liberty Chakoroma