There have been four previous COSAFA Women’s Championships since the first was played in 2002.
Ahead of the fifth instalment to be staged in Zimbabwe from September 13-24, we take a look back at the history of the competition over the last 15 years.
2002 COSAFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
The inaugural COSAFA Women’s Championship was staged in Zimbabwe from April 19-28, 2002, and was to feature nine teams before Mauritius withdrew. South Africa and hosts Zimbabwe were always going to be the favourites and it was they who met in the final. But before then both stormed through their pools to make the semifinals.
Zimbabwe topped Group A as they claimed a record 15-0 victory over Lesotho, to go with wins against Zambia (4-0) and Malawi (6-0). The Zambians managed to fill the runners-up spot.
South Africa were even more emphatic in their pool stage campaign as they claimed victories over Botswana (14-0), a game in which Veronica Phewe scored eight goals, Mozambique (13-0) and Swaziland (4-0). Mozambique picked up the runners-up position in Group B.
Zimbabwe made short work of Mozambique in their semifinal with an 11-1 victory, while South Africa had it much tougher with a 3-1 success against Zambia in the other semi.
That set up a final at the Rufaro Stadium that was won 2-1 by South Africa thanks to goals from Phewe and Portia Modise.
Zambia took the bronze medal when Julia Siame scored the only goal as they beat Mozambique 1-0 in the third-place play-off.
2006 COSAFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
South African retained their title at the second COSAFA Women’s Championship, which this time was played in Zambia.
Again there were originally nine entrants, but when Mozambique withdrew the field was cut to eight, though it was still played with three groups.
Zambia and Namibia qualified for the semifinals from Group A as they both managed four points. They opened their campaign with a 2-2 draw against one another, before Zambia beat Swaziland 7-0 and Namibia managed a 6-0 win against the Swazis.
In Group B, South Africa won both of their matches as they defeated Lesotho (9-0) and Malawi (3-0) to top the pool. Phewe and Modise were among the goals, as well as Joanne Solomon, who managed a hat-trick in the first game.
With Mozambique out, Group C was reduced to two teams, so Zimbabwe and Angola essentially played over two legs, with the Zimbabweans winning 3-1 and 1-0 to advance as pool winners.
South Africa were too strong in the semifinals with a 4-1 win over Zimbabwe, while Namibia edged Zambia 5-4 on penalties after the teams had played to a 1-1 draw.
Zambia took the bronze medal as they beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in the play-off, while South Africa fell behind to a Rita Williams goal for Namibia in the final, but Modise (two) and Kylie-Ann Louw netted as they roared back to claim gold.
2008 COSAFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
South Africa sent their Under-20 side to the 2008 COSAFA Women’s Championship in Angola because of a clash of fixtures for the senior national side, but still managed to come home with the gold medal.
A young Noko Matlou proved the hero for them with a hat-trick in the final, as she netted 12 goals through the entire tournament to underline her huge potential.
South Africa had been placed in a tough group, but came through relatively unscathed as they beat Botswana (5-0), Zimbabwe (2-1) and Zambia (7-3).
That set up a semifinal with Namibia, where they again were forced to fight hard before goals from Tina Selepe, Lucinda Bowers and Matlou saw them win the day 3-1.
That set up a final against the hosts Angola when Matlou shone again as her hat-trick saw South Africa win their third straight gold and keep their grip on the regional showpiece trophy.
2011 COSAFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Hosts Zimbabwe became the first side to break South Africa’s hold on the COSAFA Women’s Championship when they picked up the trophy on home soil in 2011.
The tournament was played at two venues across Harare and included East African guest nation Tanzania.
Zimbabwe breezed through Group A as they claimed three wins from three against Lesotho (4-0), Malawi (8-2) and Mozambique (3-0). They were joined in the semifinals by Malawi, who took the runner-up spot in the pool.
South Africa also had a perfect record in the pool stages as they claimed wins over Zambia (4-1), Botswana (4-0) and Tanzania (1-0), with Tanzania joining them in the knockout stages.
Zimbabwe found the going tough in the semifinals though where they were held to a 0-0 draw by Tanzania, but held their nerve to claim the penalty shoot-out 4-2.
South Africa were much more emphatic winners in their semifinal as they defeated Malawi 5-1 with future national team captain Amanda Dlamini grabbing two goals.
That set up a final with Zimbabwe and it was the hosts who triumphed as Rufaro Machingura scored the only goal with six minutes remaining to claim gold for her team.