South Africa made history with a 17-0 drubbing of the Comoros Islands as they opened their 2019 COSAFA Women’s Championship Group A campaign in fine style at the Wolfson Stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay on Wednesday. There were also victories for Zimbabwe and Malawi as the competition got under way in front of an enthusiastic crowd, who were treated to plenty of action on day one.
The victory is not only the biggest ever in the COSAFA Women’s Championship, beating the 15-0 victory for Zimbabwe over Lesotho in 2002, but is also South Africa’s largest ever win in their history.
Despite resting a host of key players and without their numerous overseas-based stars, Banyana Banyana had too much quality for the islanders, who were on debut in the competition.
Captain Refiloe Jane, who netted twice in the final last year, scored four goals to showcase her quality, while there was also a hat-trick for Amanda Mthandi.
Hilda Magaia and Bambanani Mbane scored braces, and the other goals came from Tiisetso Makhubela, Ode Fulutudilu, Mamello Makhabane, Busiswe Ndimeni, Kholosa Biyana and an unfortunate own goal from Comoros defender Hanifa Melanie.
Banyana might not know quite what to read into this result with Malawi and Madagascar to come in their group, but it is certainly a statement on intent from the side. Rudo Neshamba celebrated her return to the Zimbabwe national team for the first time since 2016 with a hattrick as Zimbabwe defeated Angola 4-1 to make the perfect start to their Group C campaign.
Neshamba played the poacher role superbly as she was given too much time and space in the Angola box and supplied some neat finishes to punish her opponents. The Mighty Warriors had taken the lead through Emmaculate Msipa inside three minutes and by halftime led 3-1, with Neshamba adding a fourth in the second period.
Angola are competing at the tournament for the first time since they made the final on home soil in 2008 and scored a consolation through Cristina Makua. Malawi and Madagascar appeared to be heading for a stalemate in their Group A clash before the She-Flames snatched victory late on with two goals in the final 10 minutes.
Experienced Salome Vinkhumbu scored the opener on 81 minutes and the points were made safe with two minutes to go when Zainabu Kapanda grabbed a second. It was a deserved victory for the Malawians, who missed a host of chances in the game.
The action continues at the Wolfson Stadium on Thursday when Mozambique and Eswatini clash in their Group C encounter (10h00 local time; 08h00 GMT). Both sides know a victory is needed to stay in touch with Zimbabwe as only the top team in each pool and the best-placed runner-up advance to the semifinals.
That will be followed by two matches in Group B, the first seeing Zambia take on Mauritius (12h45 local; 10h45 GMT). Zambia have yet to make a COSAFA Women’s Championship final and will be hopeful changing that this year after their showing at the African Women’s Championship in Ghana last year.
The final game of the day sees Namibia tackle Botswana (15h30 local; 13h30 GMT) in what should be a closely-contested encounter.
Meanwhile, the COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship will kick-off at the Gelvandale Stadium at eight of the best sides in this age-group in the region contest the inaugural staging of this competition.
The tournament gets under way with two matches in Group A as hosts South Africa tackle Zimbabwe (14h00 local; 12h00 GMT) in what should be a titanic tussle between two heavyweights of the region.
Both will have their eyes on the trophy and making a solid start will be crucial to their aims.
Before that there is a meeting between Namibia and Mozambique (11h00 local; 09h00 GMT) in the other match in the pool.
Matches at both venues have FREE entry to fans, who can collect tickets from:
COSAFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Spar – Daku
Spar – New Brighton
Spar – Zonke (Motherwell)
U Save– Opposite Wolfson Stadium
COSAFA WOMEN’S UNDER-20 CHAMPIONSHIP
Spar – Gelvandale
Spar – Espen Heights
Spar – Algoa
Spar – Algoa Foods
COSAFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP STATISTICS
All Wolfson Stadium
Zimbabwe 4 (Msipa 3’, Neshamba 19’, 45’, 59’) Angola 1 (Makua 45’)
Malawi 2 (Vinkhumbu 81′, Kapanda 88′) Madagascar 0
South Africa 17 (Makhubela 16’, Fulutudilu 20’, Melanie 21’og, Makhabane 23’, Jane 38’, 53’, 79’, 89’, Ndimeni 44’, Mbane 47’, 63’, Mthandi 71’, 78’, 83’, Magaia 76’, 81’, Biyana 81’)
Comoros Islands 0
All Wolfson Stadium
10h00 (08h00 GMT) – Mozambique vs Eswatini
12h45 (10h45 GMT) – Zambia vs Mauritius
15h30 (13h30 GMT) – Namibia vs Botswana