Lusaka – WITH three former winners remaining in the semifinal of the continent’s biggest regional football showcase, the Council of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) Castle Cup promises to be an intriguing affair.
In the toast of the Last Four, hosts Zambia, the inaugural winners of the tournament-they have won it thrice- resume their rivalry with fellow three-time winners South Africa, with a lot at stake to play for.
Zambia, who brushed off Mozambique at the quarterfinal stage with a 3-1 victory are eager to win silverware to make up for losing their African Nations Cup crown in February while Bafana Bafana are determined to reclaim glory after years of underachievement in recent years.
Matches between the two have been tightly contested including the one played late last year ending in a 1-0 victory for the Zambians.
The first semifinal on Wednesday pits four-time winners and defending champions Zimbabwe and surprise packages Lesotho.
On paper, the Zimbabweans are favorites to tame the Crocodiles of Lesotho who have exceeded their own expectations to reach this stage of the tournament.
Ironically, Zimbabwe won their first COSAFA title in 2000 at the expense of Lesotho, walloping Dikwena 6-0 over two legs.
Apart from reaching that final, Lesotho have been a disappointment in the tournament.
Nonetheless, it will be folly for Zimbabwe to understand the Crocodiles, who mauled favorites Angola on penalties to book a berth in this stage of the competition.
Meanwhile, the semifinals of the Plate competition at the COSAFA Cup Zambia 2013 will be held in Kitwe on Tuesday, offering some comfort to those teams knocked out in the quarterfinal stage at the weekend.
The Plate competition is a new innovation at this year’s tournament, allowing those unlucky losers in the Last 8 the chance to play more matches and not leave Zambia empty-handed.
Both matches will be played at the Arthur Davies Stadium, and each should provide rich entertainment for the supporters who have flocked to watch the regional showpiece so far.
Malawi will tackle Angola in the first Plate semifinal (kick-off 15h00), while Mozambique are up against Namibia (kick-off 17h00).
The Malawians lost to Zimbabwe via a penalty shoot-out in a close quarterfinal on Saturday, while Angola were ousted by Lesotho a day later.
Matches between the Flames and Palancas Negras have been tight affairs down the years, with Angola edging the head-to-head three to two from the six matches played.
Their last meeting was in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations that Angola hosted, when they beat Malawi 2-0 in the first round group stage.
- CAJ News