JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE football rivalry between Zambia and neighbouring Zimbabwe is arguably the biggest in Southern Africa.
From June 7, 1980, the first time the opponents met in the Zambia town of Ndola, with the hosts winning an international friendly 2-1, to March this year, again in Ndola when the teams drew two-all in the Four Nations final (Zambia won 5-4 on penalties), the sides have played some memorable encounters throughout the years of enmity.
The long-running rivalry resumes when the duo, most dominant sides in the competition, contests the Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup final at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium in the northern Limpopo Province in South Africa on Saturday.
It will be the 48th time Zambia’s Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) and Zimbabwe’s Warriors meet (they have met thrice at Under-23 level), with the Zambians boasting a record of 21 wins over their rivals, who are far off with nine wins.
While Zambia has a superior head-to-head on their side, Zimbabwe has the form.
The penalty shootout win in March was Chipolopolo’s first victory over The Warriors, coming at the sixth attempt over five years. In fact, Zambia’s 2-0 win in the 2013 COSAFA Cup final, again on home soil, represents the only time in 19 years they have beaten Zimbabwe in regulation time.
Before that success, their last victory had been secured in the 1998 final when Rotson Kilambe scored in the 80th minute, the solitary goal breaking the hearts of most of the thousands that thronged the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
Interestingly, while Zambia have won four of the sides’ seven meetings (twice on penalties), Zimbabwe has won three of the finals the two sides have contested in. Zimbabwe won two of these finals –in 2005 and 2018-played in South Africa.
Thus, on Saturday, Zimbabwe will be keen to extend their dominance over Zambia in South Africa, and secure a sixth title.
Zambia has four titles and itching to avenge the 3-1 humiliation suffered in last year’s final at the Royal Bafokeng.
Zambia edged Madagascar 1-0 to book a place in the final. They had earlier needed penalties (4-3) to eliminate Namibia in the quarterfinals.
Zimbabwe are yet to win in the competition, twice winning 3-1 on penalties against Botswana and Lesotho in the quarter and semifinals respectively. South African-based goalkeeper has emerged the Warriors’ hero on both occasions.
The two giants have been unconvincing in this year’s edition of Southern Africa’s prime football competition but there are always fireworks each time they lock horns.
– CAJ News