The Zimbabwe v Zambia Cosafa Cup final is probably the final that everyone who wanted a good match would have clamoured for.
BY Kevin Mapasure
This is a meeting between two nations, who are the most successful in this competition, and who have a rich history between them more so with Zambia seeking revenge after they were handed a 3-1 thrashing by their neighbours in last year’s final.
The stage is set for the best teams in the region to fight it out for the biggest silverware in Southern Africa at the Peter Mokaba Stadium this afternoon.
There is an air of inevitability that this final will produce a contest whose memories will linger long.
Zimbabwe and Zambia clash in the Cosafa Cup final for the fourth time in six tournaments, with the Warriors having claimed victory in 2009 and 2017 and Chipolopolo on home soil in 2013.
Zambia will be looking to equal the Warriors’ record of five Cosafa triumphs as they have so far claimed four.
Zimbabwe’s northern neighbours will fancy their chances this time against a Zimbabwe side that has not been as good and polished as the one that featured last year.
This time, despite taking to the tournament a stronger side, on paper, than the one last year, goals have dried up for the Warriors.
In their quarter and semi final matches, the Warriors managed just one goal and have ridden on successes in penalty shoot-outs where they have scored all their spot kicks with goalkeeper George Chigova coming out hero in both occasions saving a total of five.
But Chigova warned this week that they cannot keep riding on the luck of the penalty lottery and for once they want to get the job done in 90 minutes.
Better said than done against a solid Zambia side that reached the final, almost trouble-free, after a 1-0 win over Madagascar in the semi-final.
There are so many questions that Zimbabwean fans having been asking about Sunday Chidzambwa’s team selection ahead of the final, putting into context the way the team has fared so far.
With goals hard to come by, there is an interest on what measures Chidzambwa will put in to make sure that the team starts scoring again.
Tino Kadewere, whom many fans wanted to be in the starting lineup for the semi-final, was introduced as a second half substitute, but squandered Zimbabwe’s best chances, planting a free header wide.
But to many, he still deserves a starting berth, but that may entail leaving out Evans Rusike who scored Zimbabwe’s only goal so far. Brain Amidu has operated on the flanks in this tournament, but while looking sharp, he too has struggled with the end product.
Zimbabwe will want to see Khama Billiat in better scoring positions as he has the potential to get the elusive goals.
Talent Chawapihwa, who was also used as a second half substitute in the last match coming into enliven the match, looks like he can be the creative hub that can help Zimbabwe fashion out more clear-cut chances.
Chidzambwa will be looking for his fourth success at the tournament and he knows it will be a tough afternoon against a team determined to mete revenge.