COSAFA Champions Zimbabwe Warriors Shift Attention To CHAN Cup Finals

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Zimbabwe players including South Africa based goalkeeper George Chigova believes the Warriors’ impressive run at the Cosafa Castle Cup may not only have served as a launchpad for some of the players to break into bigger clubs, but it has gave them hope for qualifying for a record fifth African Nations Championships.

Chigova, who was a pillar of inspiration between the posts as the Warriors powered to a record- breaking fifth Cosafa Castle Cup title, reckoned that the quality shown by the team which Sunday Chidzambwa brought with him to South Africa showed the country’s depth.

A convincing 3-1 win over old enemies Zambia in the final at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace ensured the Warriors became the first country to win five titles in this regional competition.They had previously shared the record of four tournament wins with hosts South Africa and Zambia.

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But on a sunny afternoon before a carnival atmosphere at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, the Warriors shone brightly with goals each by Knox Mutizwa, Talent Chawapiwa and Ocean Mushure setting the stage for their victory.Zambia had briefly come back into the game via a goal just before the break by substitute Lubinda Mundia but Chipolopolo, just like all the other teams before them, could not resist the Warriors awesome attacking qualities in this competition as they conceded two more goals 21 minutes into the second stanza.

The victorious Warriors, who are expected back home at 9pm tonight after being given a day’s rest, will have very little time to celebrate their triumph as they would to shift attention to the 2018 Chan qualification duties.Zimbabwe will travel to Windhoek to face Namibia at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Sunday for a Chan second round assignment with Sunday Chidzambwa expected to retain his job as the coach of that side.

Zimbabwe have been one of two countries together with the Democratic Republic of Congo to have featured in every Chan edition since the tournament was launched in 2009 in Cote
d’Ivoire.Chidzambwa, who reached a proud personal milestone of three Cosafa Cup titles and an unbeaten run in 15 matches he has presided over in 2003, 2009 and this year, is now favourite to be asked to carry on for the back to back Chan assignments against Namibia.

The veteran coach, however, said the decision on who takes charge of the trip to Windhoek would lie with Zifa as he had only been mandated to coach the Warriors specifically for the Cosafa tournament.FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza is the Warriors’ coach for the African Cup of Nations tournament, albeit on a similar interim basis like Chidzambwa.

Chigova is one of five South Africa-based players who will now be ineligible for the trip to Windhoek as the Chan is reserved only for those players plying their trade in their national
leagues. Captain Ovidy Karuru, strikers Michelle Katsvairo and Knox Mutizwa and Ajax Cape Town defender Eric Chipeta were the other members of the foreign legion that was on this tour of duty.Chigova, however, believes the Warriors have a lot of huge positives to reap from their remarkable run in the Cosafa Castle Cup.

Chigova said he had also been impressed by the workmanship of the side that also posted the tournament’s biggest win when notching up a 6-0 thumping of Seychelles. “For the final we knew that Zambia were playing their third game and we were on the sixth match so we didn’t have to think about fatigue at all and in the final if you score first it helps you to settle and to try and control the game and we should have actually gone two up before Zambia scored.

“I think this tournament will open doors for a number of our players to get clubs and I can give an example of Talent who played very well and I’m sure the scouts were watching and he can only get better. “For Knox, he had a slow start but he started to gel with the others and you saw what he did for the team and he can only get better so the chances are there that a good number of our players will get clubs wanting to sign them.

“It was also good preparations for the Chan and even if we leave I think this team has gelled into a unit and only a few additions can be made. We have also had a chance to see how Namibia have been doing and to also learn from our mistakes,’’ Chigova said. Questions were raised on the panel of selectors’ decision to hand the Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament award to Tanzania’s second-choice goalkeeper at this competition Said Mohamed Said who featured in just one match for the Taifa Stars.

But after winning the ultimate prize that came with a R500 000 cheque, Chigova and his fellow Warriors had little to worry about individual accolades which they could have had a clean sweep of as Mutizwa won the Player of the tournament and Karuru claimed the Golden Boot.

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