from NJABULO BUTHELEZI in Durban
DURBAN – ZAMBIA have ended their Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup jinx against Zimbabwe to earn a berth versus Botswana in the final in Durban on Saturday.
The Zambians beat record winners Zimbabwe 4-2 on penalties after their semifinal clash at the Moses Mabhida Stadium ended goalless on Wednesday evening.
Dubbed the final-before-the final, Zambia were under immense pressure after losing the two previous deciders against their sworn rivals.
The Zimbabweans, fielding European-based stars, Knowledge Musona and Admiral Muskwe, were according to the form book favourites to progress to the decider but found the Zambians unyielding.
Zambia’s squad was entirely made up of locally-based stars as the four-time winners of the tournament rebuild after recent years of decline.
At the Moses Mabhida, they were thrown a lifeline towards the first half when they earned a penalty but Austin Muwowo fluffed his lines against opposition goalkeeper, Elton Chipezeze, who blocked the effort.
The second half was also lacking of a breakthrough for either of the sides and Zimbabwe’s Warriors were made to pay the penalty for failing to utilize their dominance.
In the earlier semifinals at the venue, Botswana’s Zebras edged Lesotho 2-1 courtesy of first goals by Joel Mogorosi and Segolame Boy.
The Crocodiles pulled one back via Sera Motebang late into the game to set up a nervy finish but Botswana held on.
Botswana are chasing their first title after their only appearance in the final ended in defeat to hosts South Africa in 2016.
Six-time holders Zimbabwe will play Lesotho for the bronze medal on Friday, also at the Moses Mabhida.
– CAJ News