Swaziland, Zimbabwe to battle for semifinal berth

Swaziland, Zimbabwe to battle for semifinal berth
John Takwara of Zimbabwe challenged by Jaotombo Bourahim of Madagascar during the Cosafa Castle Cup match between Zimbabwe and Madagascar at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on 28 June 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Sunday Jul 02, 2017. 15:00

Swaziland and Zimbabwe will battle for a place in the semifinals of the 2017 Cosafa Cup when they meet at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Sunday evening, kick-off at 19h30.

Swaziland were one of the seeded teams for the annual tournament, hence their automatic placing in the last eight. Sihlangu Semnikati have never won the Cosafa Cup, but last year they enjoyed their best showing by coming home in third place.

By contrast, Zimbabwe had to earn their place in the quarterfinals by progressing though the group stage. The Warriors claimed top spot in Group B in emphatic style, crushing Mozambique 4-0 and Seychelles 6-0 either side of a goalless draw with Madagascar.

Zimbabwe are one of the Cosafa Cup’s top performers, having won the tournament four times (level with fellow regional giants South Africa and Zambia), but their last trophy arrived back in 2009 and they haven’t even reached the semifinals of the last two editions.

Nonetheless, with some impressive firepower at their disposal (as evidenced by 10 unanswered goals in the group stage) and some significant game time under their belts, the Warriors enter the game as marginal favourites.

Their head-to-head record with the Swazis bears this out, with Zimbabwe claiming an impressive 11 wins from the teams’ 15 matches - with just one defeat in the process.

The pair clashed most recently in the group stage of last year’s Cosafa Cup in Namibia, playing out a 2-2 draw which ultimately helped Swaziland qualify for the quarterfinals at Zimbabwe’s expense.

The winner of this quarterfinal will face either Namibia or Lesotho in the second semifinal on Wednesday, 5 July.

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