By MICHAEL MIYOBA
THE Zambia national soccer team was yesterday humbled to a 3-1 defeat by neighbours Zimbabwe in the final of the 2017 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Senior Challenge final played at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in South Africa.
The Chipolopolo boys, who kicked off the final steadily were left holding their heads when Knox Mutizwa gave Zimbabwe the lead 22 minutes into the first half.
Wedson Nyirenda’s boys tried to get back into the game but were unfortunate as Zimbabwean goal keeper George Chigowa produced some fine saves to deny Zambia from scoring the equalizer.
Zimbabwe could however not stop the Chipolopolos from levelling matters as striker Lubinda Mundia beat Chigowa with his powerful headed goal after benefiting from a Brian Mwila’s cross from the right side of the pitch.
Zimbabwe came close to scoring their second goal of the day a few minutes before the half-time whistle but Libert Chakdroma’s shot on goal went over the bar.
Warriors’s dominance over the Chipolopolo continued in the second half with Chipolopolo goal minder Alan Chibwe preventing Warriors from finding the back of the net.
Chibwe could however not stop Talent Chawapiwa from putting Zimbabwe ahead with his brilliantly struck left footed shot from outside the 18-yard.
With the Zambian defence having been exposed, Nyirenda introduced Under-20 lad Moses Nyondo for left back Wedstar Mulenga.
The change did not bring any impact as Zimbabwe stunned Zambia with their third goal of the day.
Ocean Mushure beat Chibwe with his low sublime shot on target and put the victory beyond doubt for a Warriors side that started the COSAFA Cup tournament from the group stages while the 2012 African champions began their campaign from the quarter finals were they urged out Namibia and Tanzania to reach the final.
The triumph became Zimbabwe’s fifth of the tournament having won itin 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2009.
The victory maintains Zimbabwe dominance over the Chipolopolo since 2013.
In the five times that the two teams have met since 2013, Zimbabwe has recorded three victories with two draws.
Nyirenda’s boys will now have to wait till next year to have a chance of lifting the COSAFA Cup title they last won in 2013.