Reliving four years after Chipolopolo beat the Warriors 2-0 at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola, the Warriors have a chance to revenge reverse what happened that day.
THE 20th edition of the Cosafa Castle Cup reaches its business end this afternoon with Zimbabwe’s Warriors seeking to complete their remarkable run in this tournament with victory over old enemies Zambia at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.Today’s showdown between the rivals – their fourth in a Cosafa Castle Cup final – comes four years after Chipolopolo beat the Warriors 2-0 at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
But the Warriors have been ruthless in the manner they have gone about their business this year and have deservedly been installed favourites to secure a record-breaking fifth title.
Skipper Ovidy Karuru stands on the verge of claiming three awards – the Cosafa Cup, the Player of the Tournament prize and the competition’s top scorer accolade.A R500 000 cheque also awaits the winners of the competition, with the runners-up getting R250 000 while guest nation Tanzania, who secured third place with a penalty shootout triumph over Lesotho, have already pocketed R150 000.
But there is more to it than money in this Battle of the Zambezi.
This is a football rivalry that runs deep and there probably is no other team the other would love to beat more on any given Sunday.
The Warriors’ fine attacking qualities have not escaped the attention of Zambian legend and former Football Association of Zambia president Kalusha Bwalya who has constantly expressed his appreciation on his Twitter account.
Ocean Mushure, enjoying life in an advanced attacking role, has had a fine tournament and yesterday the Warriors vice-captain said he was ready to play his part in the final.
The utility man was quick to acknowledge that they need to heed their coach Sunday Chidzambwa’s clarion call to be on high alert throughout the encounter.
“It will not be an easy game at all because Zambia are a very good side. Like what our coach has been emphasizing, we have to fight as a team and complement each other. When one makes a mistake, we have to quickly recover and cover up.
“We have come a long way and we cannot afford to lose in this final. Zambia play as a team and they are also good at taking chances so we must not allow them room,” Mushure said.
Chidzambwa, not keen on giving Chipolopolo the kind of space that the Warriors afforded Lesotho in their dramatic semifinal, will fortify his defence with the inclusion of Black Rhinos centre-back Bruce Homora, with Ngezi Platinum captain Liberty Chakoroma retuning to partner the gritty Gerald Takwara in midfield.
For all the threat Chipolopolo may pose, one man who is eager to do battle with the Zambians is Ajax Cape Town defender Eric Chipeta.
Chipeta is itching to avenge the loss suffered against Chipolopolo in Ndola when he was part of the defensive unit that German coach Klaus Dieter Pagels travelled with for the 2013 edition, marking his Cosafa debut.
He returns to the tournament that was the launch pad for his national team career and the steely defender has not been impressive as one of the leaders on the pitch. The 27-year-old spoke about his wish to “get one over Zambia in the Cosafa Castle Cup”.
“For me it is a revenge mission and I am so eager to win this cup. In my first time in the Cosafa we lost to Zambia in Ndola and I will be happy to win this time,” Chipeta said.
Chipeta said he was using the experience gained from playing in South Africa.
“As a senior player I have to play my role to assist the captains especially in communicating from the back on the field.
“It was difficult at first because we were basically new to each other but as the tournament progressed we began to understand each other better on and off the field and see now want to cap it all with a victory,” he said.
After coming thus far, the Warriors know they are just 90 minutes away from cheering the spirits of a nation that has passionately rallied behind its flagship sports team, despite suffering countless heartbreaks.