The coveted prize of top-goal scorer at the COSAFA Castle Cup is the quickest way to catch the eye of scouts and the list of winners over the last 20 years makes for an impressive who’s who of the region.
Players from Zimbabwe have been top of the list in five of the previous 16 tournaments, and that country continues to produce the leadings marksmen from the region.
The great Peter Ndlovu has appeared on the leading scorers list on three occasions, two of those out-right when he enjoyed fabulous back-to-back tournaments in 2003 and 2004.
He also shared the award with compatriots Tauya Mrewa, Shepherd Muradzikwa and Benjamin Nkonjera in 1998 when the quartet of Zimbabwean players all netted two goals.
Striker Luke Petros managed four goals in the 2000 COSAFA Castle Cup to add his name to the list of Zimbabwean leading marksman, while the last Warriors player to claim the Golden Boot was Cuthbert Malajila on home soil in 2009.
The very first winner of the prize was Mozambique forward Adelino, who netted four goals in the inaugural COSAFA Castle Cup competition in 1997. Others to hit that mark include Collins Mbesuma from Zambia (2005) and Botswana’s Jerome Ramatlhakwane (2013).
Phillip Zialor from the Seychelles was also top-scorer in 2008, with the remarkable thing being all of his goals came in a single match as his side thumped fellow islanders Mauritius 7-0.
Teko Modise (South Africa) and Paulin Voavy (Madagascar) both scored three goals in 2007.
The record for the most goals in a single tournament is five, shared by Sarivahy Vombola (Madagascar) and Felix Badenhorst (Swaziland) in the last two tournaments.
Both spearheaded their respective nations’ charge from the group stages to the latter part of the competition and were in red-hot form in front of goal.
The 2001 COSAFA Castle Cup competition was notable in that no player managed to net more than one goal. In all there were 18 joint top-scorers with a single strike each to their name.
COSAFA CASTLE CUP TOP-SCORERS
1997 4 – Adelino (Mozambique)
1998 2 – Tauya Mrewa, Peter Ndlovu, Shepherd Muradzikwa, Benjamin Nkonjera (all Zimbabwe)
1999 3 – Betinho (Angola)
2000 4 – Luke Petros (Zimbabwe)
2001 18 players tied with one goal each.
2002 2 – Mfanzile Dlamini, Siza Dlamini (both Swaziland), Rotson Kilambe (Zambia), Teboho Mokoena, Patrick Mayo (both South Africa), Esau Kanyenda (Malawi)
2003 3 – Peter Ndlovu (Zimbabwe)
2004 3 – Peter Ndlovu (Zimbabwe)
2005 4 – Collins Mbesuma (Zambia)
2006 3 – Fabrice Akwa (Angola)
2007 3 – Teko Modise (South Africa), Paulin Voavy (Madagascar)
2008 4 – Phillip Zialor (Seychelles)
2009 4 – Cuthbert Malajila (Zimbabwe)
2013 4 – Jerome Ramatlhakwane (Botswana)
2015 5 – Sarivahy Vombola (Madagascar)
2016 5 – Felix Badenhorst (Swaziland)