Zambia will chase a record seventh Cosafa Cup title when they face Lesotho in the tournament final, set for the King Zwelithini Stadium on the evening of Sunday 16 July 2023.
Chipolopolo, the defending champions of the regional competition, are currently locked on six titles with arch-rivals Zimbabwe and earned their chance to move clear of the Warriors on the all-time list thanks to a come-from-behind 2-1 triumph over host nation South Africa in the semifinals on Friday evening.
Zambia found themselves behind thanks to Tshegofatso Mabasa’s opening goal for Bafana Bafana, but second-stanza strikes from Golden Mashata and Albert Kangwanda secured victory for a team which will finish as either Cosafa Cup champions or runners-up for a record-extending 13th time.
“We are playing Lesotho, a good side,” said Zambia coach Moses Sichone. “A team which has been together for so many years. But I still believe in our guys. We will have a day [on Saturday], we will just switch down a bit with the training, with the fight the guys put in [against South Africa].”
Lesotho earned their place in the final thanks to a penalty shootout win over Malawi in the semifinals.
Likuena and the Flames drew 1-1 over 90 minutes on Friday afternoon – with goals from Thaba Ntso and Chawangwa Kaonga respectively – before Lesotho goalkeeper Sekhoane Moerane took charge of proceedings in the shootout, making three saves and scoring the decisive spot kick for a 3-0 triumph.
Likuena, who have never won the Cosafa Cup, will be making just their second appearance in the final of the regional competition, and a first since the year 2000.
“One was expecting a win, we came here to win the game. Yes, we had the respect [for] Malawi, but we knew we [had] what it takes to leave victorious,” said Lesotho coach Leslie Notsi.
“The last time we were in the [Cosafa Cup] final was in the year 2000. So here we are after 23 years, which I believe the supporters, the Basotho people, are very happy with what the team achieved.”
He added, “We are halfway for us to give the King [Letsie III] a birthday present. On Monday our King will be celebrating his 60th birthday, so I think he deserves to have a cup from his boys.”
In head-to-head stats, Lesotho and Zambia have met in 13 matches since 1972. Chipolopolo have claimed nine wins compared to two for Likuena, with two games drawn.
The teams last met in back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in March of this year, with Zambia winning 3-1 at home in Ndola and 2-0 ‘away’ in Soweto, South Africa (due to a lack of CAF-approved venues in Lesotho).