Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
TEN years after their Warriors won the COSAFA Cup on home soil, Zimbabwe will once again next year host the regional tournament after ZIFA confirmed their bid to stage the competition yesterday.
Zimbabwe arranged the 2009 tournament with matches being played in Harare and Bulawayo.
Sunday Chidzambwa’s men sealed a memorable 3-1 victory over Zambia before a packed Rufaro, with Nyasha Mushekwi grabbing a brace while Cuthbert Malajila added the third.
After losing their way in the 2015 and 2016 competitions in South Africa and Namibia respectively, the Warriors have in the last two editions come back strongly to reassert their dominance in the tournament.
Chidzambwa, who has never lost a COSAFA Cup game, has led the Warriors to back-to-back wins in Rustenburg and Polokwane in South Africa with both successes interestingly once again coming at the expense of Chipoploplo.
Now Chidzambwa’s men could aim at an unprecedented three successive COSAFA Cup titles should they maximise on the home advantage that ZIFA have guaranteed them by confirming their readiness to host the 2019 tournament.
ZIFA chief executive Joseph Mamutse yesterday wrote to the COSAFA secretary-general Sue Destombes, accepting the offer to be the hosts of next year’s competition.
Mamutse told Destombes that ZIFA were now in the process of securing the necessary Government guarantee to underwrite the tournament.
“Dear Mrs Destombes
“The Zimbabwe Football Association wishes to advise your office that, we accept to host the 2019 COSAFA senior men’s tournament.
“Meanwhile, a letter of guarantee from the Government of Zimbabwe through the Sport and Recreation Commission will be sent to you in due course.
“Thank you,’’ wrote Mamutse.
Zimbabwe were also successful hosts of the COSAFA Women’s Championship in Bulawayo last year, where the Mighty Warriors finished 2-1 runners-up to South Africa’s Banyana Banyana.
The confirmation of this country as the 2019 hosts of the biggest of the COSAFA tournaments, also underlines the success stories of the Philip Chiyangwa administration.
Chiyangwa has since his ascendency to the ZIFA presidency in December 2015, scored a number a number of achievements on the home, regional, continental and international fronts.
And the latest decision by Chiyangwa’s administration to host the senior men’s COSAFA Cup, will apart from showcasing the regional soccer talent, also boost the country’s sport tourism profile.
The Harare business tycoon has been never shy to aim for big things and was recently nominated by his region for a place on the powerful Confederation of African Football executive committee.
He had already been appointed by CAF to be vice president of the Africa Cup of Nations organising committee. The decision by ZIFA to accept to host the competition should excite the current generation of players who also see the regional competition as their best chance of winning silverware in a continent in which their only other major tournament is the Africa Cup Nations.
This year’s tournament in Polokwane provided the opportunity for such players like Kaizer Chiefs’ Khama Billiat, CEFN Druids defender Alec Mudimu, Singida midfielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu and France-based striker Tinotenda Kadewere with a chance to fight for and win a knockout tournament in the colours of their fatherland.
Crucially for the majority of the players plying their trade on the domestic scene is the fact that the COSAFA Cup has over the decades provided them with the gateway to securing professional contracts.
Two of the latest beneficiaries of fine COSAFA tournaments have been striker Terrence Dzvukamanja, who was snapped up by Bidvest Wits after the Polokwane tournament.
Winger Talent Chawapihwa also enjoyed a dazzling show at the 2017 tournament in Rustenburg that had Baroka FC opening the cheque book to lure him to the ABSA Premiership.