Ovidy Karuru of Zimbabwe tackled by Adrian Chama of Zambia during 2017 Cosafa Castle Cup match between Zambia and Zimbabwe at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on 09 July 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Thursday Jun 07, 2018. 13:28
Zambia and Zimbabwe will renew their rivalry when they meet in the final of the 2018 Cosafa Cup at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday afternoon, kick-off at 15h00 CAT.
Both teams have had to tough it out to reach the championship decider: Zambia have overcome Namibia on penalties in the quarterfinals and Madagascar 1-0 in the semis, while Zimbabwe have resorted to shootouts in both of their clashes thus far, ousting Botswana and Lesotho.
The hero for the Warriors has been goalkeeper George Chigova, who has come up trumps in the penalty duels and led his team into the final.
Yet coach Sunday Chidzambwa must be frustrated that his star-studded side has dominated their matches but struggled to assert their superiority where it most counts: the final third of the field.
One of the players he will be looking to is Mamelodi Sundowns attacker Khama Billiat, who is playing his first Cosafa Cup.
The 27-year-old has explained that the Warriors take the regional tournament seriously are are using it as preparation for the resumption of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign later this year.
"It's important. It's a game of football. We play football and every tournament is big for the nation and also the team‚” Billiat told the Times.
"We are preparing for Afrcon. And‚ ja‚ I'm just grateful to be here. I've never played Cosafa and this is my first time and it feels great.
"It's just good to be around good players and good to play football."
Zambia coach Beston Chambeshi will be aiming to take his team to Cosafa Cup glory for a fifth time and match Zimbabwe as the most successful team in the history of the competition.
Chipolopolo have not brought a squad with the same star quality as the Warriors – on paper at least – but as they demonstrated in the 1-0 win over Madagascar, the likes of Lazarus Kambole and Toaster Nsabata are top-class performers who could lead Chambeshi’s troops to the trophy.
Zambia and Zimbabwe have met 43 times according to FIFA’s stats database, with Chipolopolo claiming 13 wins compared to seven for the Warriors (plus 23 draws). However, Zimbabwe got the better of their rivals in the final of last year’s Cosafa Cup, winning 3-1 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.