Zimbabwe scored a dramatic last ditch equaliser to take the Cosafa Cup final into extra time and then saw Khama Billiat net twice to retain the southern African championship with a dramatic 4-2 victory over perennial foes Zambia in the final.
Zambia were only seconds away from extracting revenge for defeat in last year’s final but conceded deep in stoppage time in Polokwane, South Africa, to see the game tied 2-2 after 90 minutes and then gave away a spot-kick in extra time to snatch defeat from jaws of victory.
Khama Billiat won a record-extending sixth title for Zimbabwe with his 101st minute penalty, getting up off the turf after he had been brought down in a clumsy tackle by Zambia substitute Ronald Kapamba to slot home the resultant kick, and then scored an insurance goal in the 117th minute.
Sweden-based striker Philana Kadewere scored Zimbabwe’s two goals in regulation time including a dramatic 93rd minute equaliser at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in South Africa’s northerly Limpopo Province.
Lazarous Kambole struck two superb goals on both sides of half-time for Zambia.
A horror mistake after just four minutes in the Zambian defence saw a sloppy pass go straight to Kadewere, who bore down on opposing goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata and scored with ease to the delight of the sizeable crowd, packed with Zimbabwean fans who had crossed the nearby border to cheer on their team.
But Zambia struck right back, picking the ball up deep in their own half, working it up field with a series of slick passes and then slipping it through the Zimbabwe defence to Kambole, who went around goalkeeper George Chigova for the equaliser.
The winner came five minutes into the second half with the pace of Kambole again key. He received a long ball from defence around the halfway line, played a one-two and then went wide of the defenders to score from a tight angle, squeezing it between Chigova and his right-hand post.
Zimbabwe should have pulled level from a corner with some nine minutes left as Zambia goalkeeper Nsabata completely missed with a flying attempt to punch the ball clear and it was Wales-based Alex Mudimu who got his header to the ball but somehow managed to steer his header wide.
Then in a dramatic four minutes of stoppage time at the end of the 90 minutes, Kapamba struck the post for Zambia only for Zimbabwe to go straight back onto the attack at the other end and see Khama Billiat set up Kadewere for a dramatic equaliser.
Zimbabwe looked the fresher of the two sides in extra time and Billiat made no mistake with his kick, sending Nsabata the wrong way, and scoring again late to give Zimbabwe the trophy again.