Powerhouse pair into Women’s Championship final

Hosts Zimbabwe will play defending champions South Africa in the final of the 2011 COSAFA Women’s Championship after the semifinal matches played on Thursday at the Rufaro Stadium in Harare.

The home side edged past East African guests Tanzania after a 4-2 penalty shout-out win while South Africa overwhelmed Malawi to claim a 5-1 victory.

Zimbabwe missed a host of chances against the Tanzanians as they were held to a 0-0 draw that meant the match went to penalties.

Tanzania had their chances too, but the entertaining fixture failed to offer a goal as both sides were guilty of poor finishing.

Zimbabwe held their nerve in the shoot-out though to set up a meeting with South Africa in the final on Saturday at 15h15, while Tanzania will have to face-off against Malawi for the bronze medal with a match that kicks-off at 12h30.

Earlier in the day, team captain Amanda Dlamini scored a goal in each half as South Africa came from a goal down to secure a 5-1 victory over Malawi.

The Malawians shocked the pre-match favourites by taking the lead in the 17th minute through Chawinga Tabitha after a rare piece of poor defending in the heart of the Banyana Banyana backline.

But the South Africans were on level terms four minutes later after Gabisile Hlumbane produced a downward header to set striker Noko Matlou off down the left-hand touchline. The speedy forward played the ball to left back defender Nothando Vilkazi, who charged through to beat Malawian goalkeeper Msiska Alice with ease.

Three minutes later, Matlou was in full cry down the left flank before cutting inside and feeding Dlamini, who scored from close range.

The Malawians’ task became that much harder in the 44th minute after Msiska Sungeni was sent from the field after producing a crunching tackle from behind that led to Banyana Banyana midfielder Hlumbane being stretchered from the field.

Banyana captain Dlamini then took advantage of a superb through ball to loop the ball home over the goalkeeper in the 62nd minute with the Malawian defenders looking to the match officials for an offside call.

Yola Jafta celebrated her return to the Banyana Banyana midfield after sitting out a one-match suspension after her red card against Botswana, by scoring in the 85th minute after another stint of poor Malawian defending.

Chaos reigned in the 89th minute, after 17-year-old Banyana Banyana midfielder Robyn Moodaly was fouled in the Malawian penalty area. Botswana referee Bolokonang Lengowe pointed to the penalty spot and Matlou fired the ball home.

“We started the match slow, but it’s not about how a team starts but how they finish and I am happy with that,” said South Africa coach Joseph Mkhonza.

“We came here with a mission to retain the COSAFA Women’s Championship trophy and everything still looks to be on course. It is important that our players do well at this tournament as you may know that we will play against Ethiopia in August and September for a place at the 2012 London Olympics.”