Leandra Smeda scored a 90th minute winner as South Africa claimed the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship crown with a 2-1 victory over Zimbabwe at the Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo on Sunday.
It is South Africa’s fourth title from the five regional championships played, with Zimbabwe the only other side to lift the crown in 2011.
Chrestinah Kgatlana had scored the opener for the South Africans just before halftime, but when tournament top-scorer Rutendo Makore equalised with 17 minutes remaining, it looked as though the final would have to be decided by penalties.
But when Smeda popped up to head home Chantelle Esau’s cross at the death, she secured the trophy for her side.
South African tactician Desiree Ellis has now become the first individual to win the COSAFA Women’s Championship as both a player and a coach.
Makore had earlier tested the reflexes of South Africa goalkeeper Andile Dlamini early on with a fearsome drive in front of an enthusiastic crowd in Bulawayo.
Kgatlana and Nkoikoi Mabina also forced fine saves from Zimbabwe goalkeeper Chido Dzingirai.
But Kgatlana did finally break the deadlock when she collected a pass from Smeda and found the back of the net.
South Africa looked in control, but the home side equalised on 73 minutes when Makore netted her 10th goal of the tournament with a powerful headed effort.
But just as it looked as though there would be no winner, Smeda proved the hero for the visitors to regain the regional crown for South Africa. Kgatlana was named Player of the Tournament, with Makore finishing as the leading scorer.
At Barbourfields Stadium
South Africa 2 (Kgatlana 45’, Smeda 90’) Zimbabwe 1 (Makore 73’)