Five things we learned from COSAFA 2017

Rebecca Magoma. Photo Credit: COSAFA

The fifth edition of Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Women’s Championship came to a close on September 24 at Boarbourfields with South Africa’s Banyana Banyana clinching a record of four titles out of five in the regional tournament following a 2-1 win over Zimbabwe.

The triumph for Banyana Banyana is not a coincidence considering the structures the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) has put in place in empowering women football in the country.

South Africa is one of the leading nations that take women’s football serious and their performance tells it all.

Ellis writes history

South Africa’s Banyana Banyana caretaker coach Desiree Ellis became the first tactician to win the COSAFA title as a player and a coach.

Ellis, who was given a mandate to take charge of Banyana Banyana since the departure of Dutch tactician Vera Pauw in 2016, led the side to a title as a captain in 2002 before she retired from football at the age of 38.

The 54-year-old has made a name for herself in terms of coaching and maybe SAFA can see her dedication and results thus making her role a permanent win.

Cape Town’s export who accrued 32 caps for South Africa during her playing days, has shown that women coaches can deliver as well as the men. This in turn gives a big indication to African Football administrators that given the opportunity, women coaches can get the job done.

South Africa still dominant in the region

Winning a fourth title from the possible five shows how South Africa has dominated the region. Despite missing some regular players in the squad, Desiree Ellis guided the side to claim the title from a stubborn Zimbabwe in the final.

The South African years of experience shone through as they came from three goals down to post a 3-3 draw against Shepolopolo of Zambia in this year’s semi-final and then went on to win the tie via penalties.

Their win is testament of great sturcture and ample preparation as they also enjoy the finacial backing of their sponsors Sasol compared to other nations.

Sasol announced its new partnership with SAFA back in 2009 with the focus of women development. Their renewed partnership will help steer a unified league from next year where 12 teams will participate.

Other nations will look to South Africa as a model for growth on the continent. If at least two other nations from the region have the same support as South Africa, there will be a spike in competition.

Women’s football getting recognition

During the final fixture on Sunday pitting Zimabawe and South Africa, Barbourfields Stadium was packed to brim. Fans came out in large numbers, reportedly over 30,000, to catch a glimpse of top football in the region.

Although from the championship kick-off, few fans attended the matches, the semi-final match pitting Zimbabwe against Kenya was well attended.

This is the second time in less than a year, there’s been a sold out fixture involving women’s national teams, following the 2016 Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) finals held in Cameroon.

Zimbabwe needs support to break into the big league 

The Mighty Warriors guided by sensational forward Rutendo Makore, need support to be a competitive side from the region. Playing South Africa in the final for the third time means that if they are given additional support, Zimbabwe will be a name to reckon with in the coming years.

Zimbabwe produced a top scorer in this year’s edition in Makore who literally scored in each and every match in the championship to register 10 goals.

The Warriors alongside Banyana Banyana represented the continent during the Rio 2016 Olympics but crashed out losing all their preliminary round matches.

Apart from Zimbabwe, nations like Mozambique, Swaziland, Malawi and Namibia also need the assistance.

East African region still behind

Being the second nation to take part in the COSAFA championship, Kenya finished fourth after they lost on penalties to Zambia. Kenya had received a 4-0 rout from Zimbabwe in the semi-final.

Although they posted the highest number of goals scored in a single match in their 11-0 win over Mauritius, Kenya showed their creative and defensive frailties.

Kilimanjaro Queens of Tanzania also took part in the 2011 and just like Kenya, they finished fourth. This shows that the regional championship CECAFA has to do more to be at par with the COSAFA.

Tanzania won the second edition of CECAFA last year in Uganda after they defeated Kenya 2-1 in the final. This year’s edition is expected in Rwanda in November.

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