Zambia face Zimbabwe in Cosafa final

By Mark GleesonBBC Sport
Zimbabwe goalkeeper George Chigova
Zimbabwe goalkeeper George Chigova has made several crucial saves at the 2018 Cosafa Cuo

Neighbours Zambia and Zimbabwe will go up against each other for a second successive year in the final of the Cosafa Cup.

Zambia will be looking for revenge after losing out in last year's final of the annual southern African championship.

On Wednesday Zambia beat Madagascar 1-0 to reach Saturday's final in Polokwane.

In the other semi-final Zimbabwe, for a second successive match, needed penalties to beat Lesotho.

Zimbabwe, whose five previous Cosafa Cup wins is a record, have now advanced to the final having scored just a solitary goal in open play.

That goal came in their 1-1 draw in Sunday's quarter-final against Botswana, where they then also won 3-1 on post-match penalties.

Zimbabwe selected a strong squad for the two-week tournament as they looked to emulate their success of 2017 when they beat Zambia 3-1 in the final.

But on Wednesday they found Lesotho to be a stubborn opponent, who kept the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns' striker Khama Billiat quiet throughout the 90 minutes to force a 0-0 draw.

Billiat, however, did convert one of the kicks in the shootout as his giant goalkeeper George Chigova again came up trumps with saves from the Basotho in the shootout to earn a 3-1 victory.

The sequence ended in bizarre fashion. Lesotho were already 3-1 down when their fourth kick from Jane Thabo-Ntso was disallowed by the referee Ahmad Heerlaal because the player was too stuttering in his run-up before the kick as he tried to put off the goalkeeper.

Instead Thabo-Ntso was booked for unsporting conduct and Zimbabwe declared winners.

Earlier Zambia's Lazarus Kambole scored the only goal, seven minutes before half-time, against a tired-looking Malagasy outfit, who had come through the first round and beaten hosts South Africa in the quarter-finals on Sunday.

It was their fifth game in 10 days and the islanders should have been beaten by a greater margin had Zambia's strikers not missed several gilt-edged chances.

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