By Tatenda Choto
The Zimbabwe Warriors overpowered their Southern African rivals Zambia 3-1 in an explosive COSAFA Castle Cup final match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium for their fifth COSAFA title.
Goals from Knox Mutizwa, Talent Chawapiwa and Ocean Mushure made the difference during the afternoon with Zambia receiving their only goal of the day through Lubinda Mundia.
Zambia could have taken the lead earlier after missing two glorious opportunities within only 10 minutes of play, one from a set piece which was headed over the bar and the other one from a brilliant curly from Jack Chirwa which Gorge Chigova tipped over the bar to keep his team ablaze.
Zimbabwe opened the scoring after Golden Arrows striker Knox Mutizwa was fast enough to come with a flicking header from an Honest Moyo aerial cross to beat the Zambia goalkeeper who was off guard.
Zambia survived another chop on the neck after Zimbabwe failed to utilise on silver platter in Talent Chawapihwa- Chipeta led attack which kept Mutizwa onside for a one on one situation with the Zambian goalkeeper.
The Zambians responded later towards the end of the first half after substitute Lubinda Mundia managed to nod home on his first touch from a high flying cross for an equaliser.
Zimbabwe had an opportunity to extend the goal tally five minutes before half time after captain Ovidy Karuru was brought down at the edge of the penalty box for a free kick but Eric Chipeta blasted the chance against the wall.
The second half began with the warriors continuing with their attacking type of play using the right wing where Talent Chawapihwa was operating from.
Chawapihwa gave a hectic afternoon to the Zambian defence with his unbearable pace and skill which was a driving force to the Zimbabwean attack.
Zimbabwe took over ball possession from the start of the second half and managed to build from the back going forward.
In the 53th minute Ocean Mushure orchestrated an out foot cross which found Knox Mutizwa’s flashing header and was denied by the upright to the approaching Chawapihwa who made an outstanding finish from the rebound by blasting it low for the warriors second.
The untouchable Chawapihwa made his presents felt once again moments later after the goal, this time with a well articulated draw in towards Mushure who unexpectedly hammered the ball from his weaker right foot on target for warriors third.
Chawapihwa’s show was shortly brought to an end after he succumbed a vicious tackle by a frustrated Zambian defender and was eventually substituted for Kaizer Chiefs striker Michelle Katsvairo who couldn’t come up to the show.
Though Zambian threw its entire weight for a comeback Mushure’s strike was the final nail on the coffin and Sunday Chidzambwa’s defence was water tight not to consider another goal to end the match Zimbabwe 3-1 in favour of Zimbabwe.
Talent Chawapihwa was awarded Castle Larger Man of the Match whilst Knox mutizwa was awarded with the Man of the Tournament. Ovidy Karuru was Castle Larger Top goal scorer with Six goals.
For winning the COSAFA Cup, Zimbabwe walked away with R500 000 and where the best team at the tournament scoring a record 19 goals out of six games.