AS the news that Warriors head coach Zdravko Logarusic was barred from entering South Africa and that his assistant Lloyd Chitembwe was said to be blacklisted by the South African immigration department from entering the neighbouring country ahead of the 2021 Cosafa Cup filtered through, Zifa and this entire football loving nation were obviously left with a battered image.
So embarrassing were the developments and it was no wonder to see social media platforms go on overdrive.
However, as they would always say, facts are stubborn things; Warriors are still the Cosafa Cup history making team.
Warriors are six-time champions in the COSAFA Cup and one of the region’s powerhouses. Their last triumph came in 2018 when coach Sunday Chidzambwa led them to his fourth win in the competition, a record for a coach, as they defeated Zambia 4-2 in the decider.
It was back-to-back victories after they also beat Chipolopolo 3-1 in the 2017 final, but a weakened side could not repeat the feat in 2019 when Zambia got their revenge in the semifinals and Zimbabwe ended up in third place.
Their recent success had followed a long wait for a trophy win, eight years to be exact.
Before that, their previous triumph came in 2009 when the tournament was held in Harare and Bulawayo and beat Zambia 3-1 in the final.
The two rivals clashed again in 2013 as Zambia turned the tables with a 2-0 win as hosts, and Zimbabwe were surprisingly knocked out of the 2015 competition in the first round.
Prior to that they were victorious in 2005 in Mmabatho, again beating Zambia in the final. In 2003, they easily beat Malawi in the decider, winning both legs for a 4-1 aggregate triumph. Their success in 2000 in the final against Lesotho brought to an end a long spell of poor luck for the nearly-men of African soccer, who for more than two decades have consistently narrowly failed to qualify for both the World Cup and African Nations Cup finals.
That changed with the Warriors qualifying for the Nations Cup finals in Tunisia in 2004. They also competed at the 2006 finals in Egypt. Zimbabwe previously had success in the East and Central African Senior Challenge Cup, winning when they played host in 1985. At club level, Dynamos of Harare reached the final of the African Champions League in 1998.
Warriors COSAFA CUP RECORD AT A GLANCE
1997 – First round
1998 – Runners-up
1999 – Quarterfinals
2000 – Winners
2001 – Runners-up
2002 – Quarterfinals
2003 – Winners
2004 – Semifinals
2005 – Winners
2006 – Semifinals
2007 – First round
2008 – Quarterfinals
2009 – Winners
2013 – Runners-up
2015 – First round
2016 – First round
2017 – Winners
2018 – Winners
2019 – Semifinals