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Warriors underline Cosafa dominance

By Petros Kausiyo

Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa wants his charges to maintain the lofty standards they have set themselves after it emerged that Zimbabwe’s fifth COSAFA Cup success in 2017 also sees them topping the all-time table for number of matches won in the regional championship since it was inaugurated in 1997.

Sunday Chidzambwa, coach of Zimbabwe during the Cosafa Castle Cup match between Mozambique and Zimbabwe at the Moruleng Stadium in Rustenburg on 26 June 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Chidzambwa is the most successful coach in the competition having led the Warriors to three titles in 2003, 2009 and 2017.

The veteran gaffer was also the first the first man to take the Warriors to the African Cup of Nations when guided them to the 2004 finals in Tunisia.

Chidzambwa will be aiming to stretch his personal record and that of his country when the Warriors defend their title at the 2018 competition in South Africa’s Limpopo province from May 27-June 9. According to statistics released by COSAFA, the Warriors and their biggest regional rivals — Zambia — have the edge over all the countries in the COSAFA region when it comes to success

Both Zimbabwe and Zambia have played 52 matches in the competition in the past, but the former lead with 33 wins to Chipolopolo’s 27. Both sides have lost just eight games in the last 21 years.

The Warriors are also closing in on 100 goals and are just six short, making it almost certain they will be the first side to reach that landmark in the next few years.

Zambia (76 goals) have the next highest number of goals, with 2015 winners Namibia on 62 and four-time champions South Africa (54) the only other sides to pass the half-century mark.

Chipolopolo, who like South Africa have won four titles, have also been involved in the most draws (17), while South Africa have the fewest defeats (seven) of teams that have played seven or more games.

Mozambique, Malawi and Lesotho have lost the most games (19), though the latter have the worst loss percentage as their defeats have come from just 39 games.

“I think as defending champions we are going to be the team to beat and it is going to be a bit difficult because everyone will would like to beat us. It’s different to last year when we were the underdogs,’’ said Chidzambwa.

“But we will try to fight hard to defend our title and, of course, football being football we may succeed and may not succeed, but our wish is to win again.

“I think we have to try and maintain the standards that we have set for ourselves and we have to try to score more goals too.

“As a coach when you play at any tournament, your aim is to win and that is what we are going to try and do and the records will then take care of themselves, but the focus and the mission is on winning and doing well for the country.’’

Legendary former Zimbabwe captain, Peter Ndlovu, also remains the tournament’s all-time highest scorer with seven goals.

Those seven goals were spread over some seven seasons with the most memorable being the hat-trick he struck against Swaziland in 2004, which ironically, were the last he scored for Zimbabwe in the tournament.

Swaziland’s lanky forward Felix Badenhorst, who has six goals, is the closest to equalling or eclipsing Ndlovu should he feature for Sihlangu this year and find the target. The Herald