Cosafa’s coming back

Enthusiastic support for women’s event seals deal

Banyana Banyana celebrate winning the final of the Cosafa Women’s Championship against Cameroon at the Wolfson Stadium on Saturday
Banyana Banyana celebrate winning the final of the Cosafa Women’s Championship against Cameroon at the Wolfson Stadium on Saturday
Image: SYDNEY MAHLANGU/BACKPAGEPIX

Cosafa president Phillip Chiyangwa watched Banyana Banyana retain their title on Saturday and then announced that the tournament would return to the Bay next year following phenomenal crowd support.

Attendance throughout the two-week Cosafa Women’s Championship at Kwazakhele’s Wolfson Stadium was impressive as soccer lovers rallied behind Banyana and women’s soccer.

Chiyangwa said he was not only pleased by the number of fans attending the matches but also the magnificent vibe in the stadium during the games.

Chiyangwa said the city had asked for the tournament to be held in the Bay again next year and he had no hesitation in obliging.

“Together with the Safa president and the deputy mayor we have agreed that the tournament will be here next year,” the Cosafa president said.

“They just need to formalise it by the city’s writing to Safa and then to Cosafa, but I have generally accepted that it can come back here.”

Asked what had influenced his decision, Chiyangwa said it was the people.

“We play football for people to have fun. You can see the changes in PE’s reflection of things.

“Once there is more football coming, socialisation takes place and football is one of the most powerful tools to bring people together and out of crime.”

Banyana Banayana were crowned winners of the competition for the fifth time, having won it last year as well as in 2002, 2006 and 2008.

They beat Cameroon 2-1 in a competitive, high-tempo final.

Midfielder Refiloe Jane scored two excellent goals in the 43rd and 90th minutes.

Cameroon had equalised through Genevieve Ngo Mbeleck in the 66th minute.

Excited Banyana coach Desiree Ellis said: “It was a tough match, very technical.

“I think we almost cancelled each other out, but when we got the first goal we settled down nicely.

“Cameroon are a good side, but the beauty of our team is that we never give up. “Our players gave their all. “We are a team that fight for each other, we are a team that never give up and we are a team that play until the final whistle.

“We have won a few games in the last couple of months right at the death, and credit goes to the players.”

Ahead of the tournament, the coach said they would use the Cosafa event as part of their preparation for the women’s Afcon, which takes place in Ghana in November.

“This is the type of preparation we were looking for coming towards Afcon. There are still a lot of t’s to be crossed and i’s to be dotted, but we are on the right track.”

The tournament in Ghana also serves as a qualifier for the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France next year.

Cameroon are potential opponents for Banyana Banyana at that competition and Banyana will now believe they can finish among the top three sides and qualify for a very first World Cup.

Meanwhile, Tracy Akiror scored a penalty as Uganda sealed the bronze medal at the tournament with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over luckless Zambia on Friday.

Zambia finished fourth, lower than last year.

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