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Big guns booted out of COSAFA Cup

July 3, 2024 7:38 am by: Category: Featured, Football, SPORTS Leave a comment A+ / A-

by NJABULO MKHIZE
GQEBERHA – THE elimination of the most successful sides in the Hollywoodbets Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup indicates the gap between the so-called big teams and minnows in the region is closing.

Defending champions Zambia, Zimbabwe and hosts, South Africa, have been sent packing at the Group stage from the tournament that features 12 teams this year.

Five-team champions, South Africa, have been thrown out of their own party.

They were in Group A where neighbours Mozambique have won on goal difference after both teams finished on five points on Tuesday.

The Mambas of Mozambique proved too venomous to Botswana’s Zebras, condemning them to a 3-1 defeat at the Isaac Wolfson.

Bafana Bafana, perennial hosts of COSAFA’s prime tournament, are paying the price of their timidity in front of goal. The dearth of strikers is a long-running national crisis.

A 1-0 victory over Eswatini at the Nelson Mandela Bay was insufficient to salvage a place in the semifinals of a tournament where only the group winners and the best second-placed team qualify.

Eswatini finished third and Botswana bottom, both on two points.

Group B has been the most exhilarating. Spare a thought for Zimbabwe, who crashed out despite finishing with six points, on third, more points than the winner of Group A.

The Warriors were top of the group at the start of the final round of matches but a 2-0 loss to Kenya’s Harambee Stars at the Isaac Wolfson condemned them to third and a short trip back home north of the Limpopo.

The six-time winners finished level on points with Group leaders, Comoros, and Kenya but crashed out on goal difference. Comoros’ Coelacanths are the surprise packages.

Guest team, Kenya, will have their eyes on Group C on Wednesday, to be certain of finishing as the best second-placed team.

Almost always dicing with controversy, Zimbabwe hogged the spotlight for the wrong reasons for spotting a kit that was not commensurate with national colours and a bloated delegation to South Africa.

Ill-disciplined Zambia’s finishing bottom of Group B suggests a crisis for the record, seven-time winners of the regional tournament.

Chipolopolo (The Copper Bullets) is renowned for producing some of the most potent strikers in the continent but exiting the tournament with no goals and losing all three matches.

They were the punching bags of this Group and appeared to be in this annual tournament more for collecting red cards (two) than defending the trophy they won when it debuted in 1997.

There is all to play for in Group C meanwhile, where joint leaders Angola and Namibia (4 points) face Lesotho and Seychelles respectively.

The latter two have a point each.

– CAJ News

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