Tau, Kundananji win big at Cosafa awards

Percy Tau in action for Al Ahly. File photo

South African striker Percy Tau and Zambia forward Racheal Kundananji took home the best player prizes at the inaugural 2023 COSAFA Awards that were staged in a glittering gala ceremony at the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursday.

Tau won the COSAFA Men’s Player of the Year award after a stellar 2023 with Egyptian giants Al Ahly and the South Africa national team, while Kundananji was the COSAFA Women’s Player of the Year following her eye-catching performances for former club Madrid FC and Zambia, that included scoring at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

There were eight player/coach awards, four referee prizes and five Lifetime Achievement recipients as COSAFA honoured those past and present who have made an impact on the game in the region. The player/coach and referee awards covered the period January- December 2023.

They were handed over by some of the region’s greatest legends, such as Kalusha Bwalya, Lucas Radebe and Dipsy Selolwane, with many more top former players in attendance on the night.

Tau led Ahly to CAF Champions League and Egyptian Premier League success and scored for the club at the FIFA Club World Cup in an eye-catching 2023.

“It is an honour to receive this award, it means so much to be recognised by our region,” Tau said. “It has always been my goal to represent my country and the Southern Africa at the highest level and to give hope to those that come from s similar background to me.”

Kundananji recently became the most expensive player in women’s football history when she moved from Madrid FC in Spain to Bay FC in the United States for $800,000.

“It is such an honour and I really appreciate this award and this opportunity,” Kundananji said. “It is not easy, among thousands of players, to be chosen for this award. I had a lot of highlights in 2023, but I think my favourite was at club level against Barcelona when I scored two goals. Scoring against those (incredible) teams is such a great moment.”

South African club Mamelodi Sundowns had several winners on the night, including Rulani Mokwena, who was named COSAFA Men’s Coach for the Year following an outstanding 2023 in which the club won a record sixth league title in a row and the inaugural African Football League

“This is award for all of my players, an incredible group who keep on achieving. I wouldn’t be here without them. I must thank my club Mamelodi Sundowns for the support they have given to me,” Mokwena said.

Sundowns and South Africa gloveman Ronwen Williams won the award for COSAFA Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year.

“Thanks to COSAFA, this is a great honour, and this recognition is very special to me. Thanks to my teammates and everyone at Sundowns, my coaches especially, who keep pushing me,” Williams said.

There was a Sundowns ‘double’ in the keeping department as Andile Dlamini claimed the COSAFA Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year award as she helped the team to a ‘treble’ of domestic, regional and continental glory in the CAF Women’s Champions League.

Sundowns were not done yet as their young star Thapelo Maseko won the COSAFA Men’s Most Promising Player of the Year award for footballers aged 20 or under in 2023.

The award for COSAFA Women’s Coach of the Year went to Dr Desiree Ellis, for leading South Africa to the round of 16 at the Women’s World Cup for the first time, a continuation of her success having won the last four CAF Women’s Coach of the Year prizes.

“I was there at the very first COSAFA Women’s Championship in Zimbabwe in 2002, so that was the start of my journey with COSAFA. The tournaments have been a huge boost to women’s football and helping us develop new talent,” Ellis said.

Leticia Chinyamula from Malawi claimed the award for the COSAFA Women’s Most Promising Player of the Year having helped the She Flames to a maiden COSAFA Women’s Championship at the age of only 17.

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