…as COSAFA titles elude She-polopolo, U-20
By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA
ZAMBIA wrapped up the COSAFA women senior and under-20 tournaments on a sad note after they failed to win their respective final matches to clinch maiden titles.
The senior She-polopolo once again could not inspire an historic win against defending champions South Africa as they lost 1-0 while their younger counterparts were edged 2-1 by Tanzania.
But Zambia was consoled with Rachel Nachula (10 goals) and under-20 star Maylan Mulenga (five goals) grabbing golden boots while Hellen Mubanga was named the Most Valuable Player.
At a fully packed Wolfson Stadium, South Africa made sure they won their record sixth COSAFA title and extended their dominance on Zambia who were debut final finalists.
It was clear the She-polopolo still needed to work extra hard to pick a maiden win over Banyana Banyana.
Zambia kicked off the game on a counter attack and could have taken an early lead but Rachel Nachula’s thunderbolt missed the framework.
She-polopolo’s defence led by Anita Mulenga could not keep up to the fast-paced quartet of Tiisetso Makhubela, Busiswe Ndimeni, Refiloe Jane and Robyn Moodaly.
South Africa could have taken the lead in the 16th minute but Noxolo Cesane goal was ruled for off-side by Madagascan referee Rosalie Rosalie. The hosts found the light in the 21st minute when Makhubela scored a rebound when goalkeeper Hazel Nali spilled over the ball from a Mamello Makhabane free-kick.
South Africa suffered another setback in the 29th minute when Makhubela header was ruled off-side.
The champions started the second half by upping up pressure and creating a good number of chances, but they often found themselves in an off-side trap.
Grace Chanda and Mubanga missed the last chance to send the game into penalties as their efforts were saved.
Coach Beauty Mwamba said she was proud of the girls’performance despite failing to clinich the title.
“I am proud of my girls’ performance. This is evidence that women football is developing in Zambia and the girls just need financial support to reach a higher level,” she said. Earlier at Wolfson Stadium, the Zambia under-20 girls wept uncontrollably after they lost to a team they had beaten 2-1 in the group stage.
Tanzania dominated the match from the onset and broke the deadlock the in 23rd minute through Opa Sanga.
Loveness Malunga equalised in the 54th minute with a beautiful goal from outside the box. With the game looking to go into penalties, Portasia Mbunda pounced on a defensive lapse before adjusting Anna Mukumbuta, the last defence to gift Tanzania the inaugural title.