Kenya beat Zambia, Zimbabwe get points

Ricky Banda of Zambia in action against Amos Wanjala of Kenya during the 2024 Hollywoodbets Cosafa Men’s Championship match at the Nelson Mandela Stadium, Gqeberha on the 27 June 2024. BackpagePix

Champions Zambia got the defence of their Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup 2024 title off to a losing start after they were beaten 2-0 by East African guest nation Kenya at the Neldon Mandela Bay Stadium on Thursday.

The match followed a 1-0 win for Zimbabwe in their Group B opener against Comoros and leaves record seven-time winners Zambia on the back foot already as they seek an unprecedented third title win in a row.

Only the top team in each of the three pools and the best placed runner-up advance to the semifinals this year, meaning it is all to play for and any slip-ups put teams on the back foot.

Kenya took the lead when Austine Odhiambo kept his cool from the penalty-spot to slot the ball home after eight minutes.

One became two soon afterwards as hesitant defending at the back post allowed Patrick Otieno to steal in and score as he poked the ball past Zambia goalkeeper Charles Kalumba.

The second half saw Zambia dominate possession, but they were not able to create enough in front of goal to claw their way back into the game.

Zimbabwe picked up a victory on their return to the Cosafa Cup for the first time since 2021 as they edged Comoros 1-0 following a winning goal in the second half from Michael Tapera.

It was a hard-fought contest in which both teams had further chances, but the Warriors managed to hold on in the end for what will be a huge boost in morale.

The action continues on Friday with the opening games in Group C. Entrance will be free with tickets for tomorrow’s game available at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium ticket office on a first come, first served basis.

Lesotho, beaten finalists last year, will take on Seychelles with kick-off set for 15h00 CAT.

It will be a first ever meeting between these two nations in the Cosafa Cup, creating a little bit of history in Gqeberha. Seychelles have never been past the group stages and that will be their aim this time round.

The later game sees Angola take on Namibia at the same venue at 18h00 CAT. Namibia will have to make their own piece of history if they are to win this one, having never defeated Angola before in the Cosafa Cup.

Palancas Negras have won two of their four previous meetings in the competition, with the other two drawn.

That includes the 1999 final that Angola won 2-1 on aggregate when the decider was played over two legs, while the last time they met in the regional showpiece competition was all the way back in 2004. –

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