Phokeng, South Africa | AFP | Zimbabwe confirmed their superiority over Zambia in COSAFA Cup southern Africa championship finals by winning 3-1 in Phokeng Sunday to lift the trophy a record fifth time.
This was the fourth time the neighbouring nations have met in the final of the annual regional competition and Zimbabwe have won three.
Knox Mutizwa put Zimbabwe ahead in the first half at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace stadium in the northwest South African platinum mining belt with his fifth goal of the championship.
Lubinda Mundia nodded Zambia level before half-time via his first touch after coming on as a substitute.
Despite playing their sixth match in 14 days, Zimbabwe proved stronger in the second half and goals from Talant Chawapiwa and Ocean Mushure gave the “Warriors” a deserved triumph.
It was the fourth goal of the tournament for defender Mushure, who finished third in the scorers’ chart behind team-mates Ovidy Karuru (six) and Mutizwa (five).
“I am very happy for the boys and myself,” said Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa, who captained his country in their first international, a 6-0 win over Mozambique 37 years ago.
“Playing six matches in 14 days and scoring 19 goals were tremendous achievements and I am sure our people are proud of us.
“At half-time I told the boys to keep going forward because Zimbabwe are blessed with gifted attackers who can score goals regularly.”
Zambia coach and former national team striker Wedson Nyirenda was magnanimous in defeat, describing Zimbabwe as “the most mature team in the competition and worthy champions”.
“Schoolboy errors, particularly at the back, cost us this match. We lost concentration during the second half and were severely punished,” he said.
“After equalising, my boys thought they already had their hands on the trophy and fell asleep. We came here with a young team and I hope valuable lessons have been learnt.”
The first Zimbabwe goal came gift-wrapped from Zambia goalkeeper Allan Chibwe, who was outjumped by Mutizwa and the ball landed in the net on 22 minutes.
Mundia equalised with a well-placed header off a cross that gave Zimbabwe goalkeeper George Chigova no chance.
Zimbabwe regained the lead on 56 minutes when Chawapiwa fired a rebound into the net after a Mutizwa header came back off the post.
Chawapiwa turned provided for the third goal after 67 minutes, cutting the ball back for Mushure to score with a shot into the corner of the net.