Zim to host 2019 COSAFA Cup

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Pet­ros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Ed­i­tor

TEN years af­ter their War­riors won the COSAFA Cup on home soil, Zim­babwe will once again next year host the re­gional tour­na­ment af­ter ZIFA con­firmed their bid to stage the com­pe­ti­tion yes­ter­day.

Zim­babwe ar­ranged the 2009 tour­na­ment with matches be­ing played in Harare and Bu­l­awayo.

Sun­day Chidzambwa’s men sealed a mem­o­rable 3-1 vic­tory over Zam­bia be­fore a packed Ru­faro, with Nyasha Mushekwi grab­bing a brace while Cuth­bert Mala­jila added the third.

Af­ter los­ing their way in the 2015 and 2016 com­pe­ti­tions in South Africa and Namibia re­spec­tively, the War­riors have in the last two edi­tions come back strongly to re­assert their dom­i­nance in the tour­na­ment.

Chidzambwa, who has never lost a COSAFA Cup game, has led the War­riors to back-to-back wins in Rusten­burg and Polok­wane in South Africa with both suc­cesses in­ter­est­ingly once again com­ing at the ex­pense of Chipoplo­plo.

Now Chidzambwa’s men could aim at an un­prece­dented three suc­ces­sive COSAFA Cup ti­tles should they max­imise on the home ad­van­tage that ZIFA have guar­an­teed them by con­firm­ing their readi­ness to host the 2019 tour­na­ment.

ZIFA chief ex­ec­u­tive Joseph Ma­mutse yes­ter­day wrote to the COSAFA sec­re­tary-gen­eral Sue Destombes, ac­cept­ing the of­fer to be the hosts of next year’s com­pe­ti­tion.

Ma­mutse told Destombes that ZIFA were now in the process of se­cur­ing the nec­es­sary Govern­ment guar­an­tee to un­der­write the tour­na­ment. “Dear Mrs Destombes “The Zim­babwe Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion wishes to ad­vise your of­fice that, we ac­cept to host the 2019 COSAFA se­nior men’s tour­na­ment.

“Mean­while, a let­ter of guar­an­tee from the Govern­ment of Zim­babwe through the Sport and Recre­ation Com­mis­sion will be sent to you in due course. “Thank you,’’ wrote Ma­mutse. Zim­babwe were also suc­cess­ful hosts of the COSAFA Women’s Cham­pi­onship in Bu­l­awayo last year, where the Mighty War­riors fin­ished 2-1 run­ners-up to South Africa’s Banyana Banyana.

The con­fir­ma­tion of this coun­try as the 2019 hosts of the big­gest of the COSAFA tour­na­ments, also un­der­lines the suc­cess sto­ries of the Philip Chiyangwa ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Chiyangwa has since his as­cen­dency to the ZIFA pres­i­dency in De­cem­ber 2015, scored a num­ber a num­ber of achieve­ments on the home, re­gional, con­ti­nen­tal and in­ter­na­tional fronts.

And the lat­est de­ci­sion by Chiyangwa’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to host the se­nior men’s COSAFA Cup, will apart from show­cas­ing the re­gional soc­cer tal­ent, also boost the coun­try’s sport tourism pro­file.

The Harare busi­ness ty­coon has been never shy to aim for big things and was re­cently nom­i­nated by his re­gion for a place on the pow­er­ful Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

He had al­ready been ap­pointed by CAF to be vice pres­i­dent of the Africa Cup of Na­tions or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee. The de­ci­sion by ZIFA to ac­cept to host the com­pe­ti­tion should ex­cite the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of play­ers who also see the re­gional com­pe­ti­tion as their best chance of win­ning sil­ver­ware in a con­ti­nent in which their only other ma­jor tour­na­ment is the Africa Cup Na­tions.

This year’s tour­na­ment in Polok­wane pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity for such play­ers like Kaizer Chiefs’ Khama Bil­liat, CEFN Druids de­fender Alec Mudimu, Singida mid­fielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu and France-based striker Tino­tenda Kadewere with a chance to fight for and win a knock­out tour­na­ment in the colours of their fa­ther­land.

Cru­cially for the ma­jor­ity of the play­ers ply­ing their trade on the do­mes­tic scene is the fact that the COSAFA Cup has over the decades pro­vided them with the gate­way to se­cur­ing pro­fes­sional con­tracts.

Two of the lat­est ben­e­fi­cia­ries of fine COSAFA tour­na­ments have been striker Ter­rence Dzvuka­manja, who was snapped up by Bid­vest Wits af­ter the Polok­wane tour­na­ment.

Winger Tal­ent Chawapi­hwa also en­joyed a daz­zling show at the 2017 tour­na­ment in Rusten­burg that had Baroka FC open­ing the cheque book to lure him to the ABSA Premier­ship.

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