Heading to this year’s final Cosafa Cup edition, the Chipolopolo of Zambia had an uphill battle as they were hoping to dethrone champions Zimbabwe at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The two Southern African giants faced off against each other last year in Rustenburg as the Warriors managed to emerge as victors over Zambia via a 3-1 win.
A look at Beston Chambeshi’s men, they started in the quarter-finals and met Namibia whom they defeated thanks to a 4-3 penalty scoreline.
Up next was a clash against the Barea of Madagascar and the 2016 African champions scraped through to a 1-0 win courtesy of Lazarous Kambole’s goal.
Coming to the side mentored by Sunday Chidzambwa, Zimbabwe overcame the Zebras of Botswana on Sunday via a penalty shoot-out as goalkeeper George Chigova became a hero.
Although this year’s final was about revenge for Zambia, they were not stable at the back and their opponents capitalised as early as the fourth minute.
In their quest to retain the trophy, the Zimbabweans came in their numbers to support the Warriors and Tino Kadewere calmly finished to beat Taster Nsabata.
However, they also failed to clear their lines and allowed Zambia to level the matters through Kambole who found space through the middle and rounded Chigova before scoring his second of the tournament.
In an entertaining encounter at the iconic venue, Khama Billiat received the ball on his left-foot 15-yards from goal, but he scooped his shot over the bar without bothering Nsabata.
Both nations went to the tunnel levelled at 1-1, but it was the Zambians who showed their hunger in the second stanza.
They took the lead when Kambole completed his brace with five minutes from their return, the goal came from a swift counter attack.
Towards the last 10 minutes, it was Chipolopolo who showed quality in terms of passes and possession proving their dominance over the champions.
Chidzambwa continued to push his men upfront in numbers in search of an equaliser, yet the opposite defence remained resolute.
Just before the final whistle, Kadewere netted his second of the match in the injury time making it 2-2 as it ended in a stalemate.
The Zambians failed to contain Billiat in the opening half of the extra time as they fouled him the box, the referee pointed to the spot and the Mamelodi Sundowns man converted,making it 3-2.
In the second half of extra time, Chigova was in an uncompromising mood and safely swallowed Zambian balls floated into the penalty area.
As the Zambians pushed numbers forward as they probed for a second goal, they opened up at the back and Billiat netted his second goal after showing a great first touch and composure in the box as the game ended 4-2 following the full time whistle.
Zimbabwe subsequently claimed their sixth regional title.