Goals win games and there have been many great strikers who have made their name in the COSAFA Cup over the last 24 years.
But who has been the top marksmen from each of the 14 member nations of COSAFA and who leads the tournament honours overall ahead of the 2021 COSAFA Cup that will be played in Nelson Mandela Bay from July 6-18?
Youssouf Ibroihim (Comoros Islands) 2 goals
Striker Youssouf Ibroiham is the only player to score twice for Comoros Islands in the COSAFA Cup among their eight team goals in total. Both his goals came in the first two games of the 2019 competition that was staged in Durban, where Comoros reached the quarterfinals for the first time.
Pollen Ndlanya, Patrick Mayo, Katlego Mphela, Teko Modise, Gift Motupa, Lebohang Maboe (South Africa) 3 goals
Perhaps because they change their squad so often, South Africa have not found a regular goal-scorer in this competition, but these six players all have three goals to their name. Will they find someone to set the 2021 tournament alight?
Kersley Appou (Mauritius) 4 goals
Appou was a lead forward for the Mauritians in the early years of the tournament, playing between 2000 and 2007. Young forward Ashley Nazira scored three goals in the 2019 competition and will hope to get another opportunity when the islanders return to the COSAFA Cup.
Philip Zialor (Seychelles) 4 goals
All of Zialor’s goals in the COSAFA Cup came in one game as Seychelles stunned Mauritius with a 7-0 victory, still the largest win in the history of the competition. His four goals in a single game is also a COSAFA record!
Fabrice Akwa (Angola) 5 goals
Akwa was a star striker for Angola at the turn of the century, who turned out for Portuguese giants Benfica, among other overseas clubs. He scored a hat-trick against Mauritius in 2006 to go with goals in 2000 and 2001.
Collins Mbesuma (Zambia) 5 goals
Mbesuma is one of the best strikers to come out of Southern Africa, who might have achieved more were it not for crippling knee injuries that stunted his career. He scored four goals in the 2005 COSAFA Cup and also found the back of the net in 2003. He is a free agent after leaving second-tier side University of Pretoria in South Africa at the end of last season.
Maile Tlale (Lesotho) 5 goals
Tlale shone in the 2013 COSAFA Cup with four goals and then got another in 2015 as he showed his prowess in the box. He is one goal ahead of current national team stars Sera Motebang and Jane Thaba-Ntso
Sarivahy Vombola (Madagascar) 5 goals
All of Vombola’s goals came in the 2015 COSAFA Cup, where he was in electric form and took the Malagasy to third place. He has since battled to repeat that feat.
Deon Hotto (Namibia) 6 goals
Hotto was level with Namibia legend Congo Hindjou going into the 2018 COSAFA Cup, but his strike in the Plate semi-final defeat to South Africa took his career tally to six. Hotto was a star player for Namibia when they lifted the title in 2015 and will be a key man again for them in 2021 having been selected in the provisional squad for the competition.
Gabadinho Mhango (Malawi) 6 goals
Gabadinho Mhango added three more COSAFA Cup goals to his tally in the last tournament in 2019 to streak ahead in the leading scorer stakes for The Flames. Behind him on three goals are legend Esau Kanyenda and current team-mate Gerald Phiri Jnr. All of the latter’s goals came in 2019.
Onkabetse Makgantai (Botswana) 6 goals
Makgantai scored five goals in the 2018 COSAFA Cup to boost his overall tally to six, form that earned him a move to Baroka FC in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League. He has one more career COSAFA Cup goal than teammate Kabelo Seakanyeng, who has scored in three tournaments between 2016 and 2018.
Manuel ‘Tico-Tico’ Bucuane (Mozambique) 7 goals
Tico-Tico is one of the leading strikers from the COSAFA region and displayed all his talents in the COSAFA Cup, with goals between 1997 and 2008. He is a legend of Southern Africa.
Felix Badenhorst (Eswatini) 8 goals
Badenhorst was in superb form in the 2016 COSAFA Cup with five goals as Eswatini finished third. He added another goal in 2017 and then two more in 2019 to be the joint leading scorer in the history of the COSAFA Cup.
Peter Ndlovu (Zimbabwe) 8 goals
Ndlovu always made himself available for the COSAFA Cup despite playing in the big leagues in England and his goals return was impressive, stretching over some seven seasons. His hat-trick in 2004 against Swaziland were the final goals he scored in the regional championship.