The COSAFA Women’s Championship will be played in Nelson Mandela Bay this year from September 28 to October 9, when the best of the region’s talent and beyond will gather in the hope of lifting the prestigious trophy.
The tournament has become a hugely popular fixture on the COSAFA calendar, not least for the quality of the football, but also the entertainment value, with some star names lighting up the competition.
We look back at the leading scorers from the last five editions and how they fared.
2011 – RUFARO MACHINGURA (ZIMBABWE) – 8 GOALS
Zimbabwe scored 16 goals at the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship and half of those came from prolific forward Machingura.
That included scoring the winner in the final as Zimbabwe edged South Africa 1-0 for their maiden title, and the only time Banyana Banyana have failed to lift the trophy.
She was an accomplished international for Zimbabwe and a regular scorer, but also will perhaps be remembered also for an unsavoury incident in a domestic game in 2014.
Machingura and a number of her Black Rhinos Queens teammates attacked referee Mercy Mayimbo after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Inline Academy.
2017 – RUTENDO MAKORE (ZIMBABWE) – 10 GOALS
Another prolific Zimbabwean forward was top scorer four years ago as Makore reached double figures in the competition, though she could not help her side to the trophy.
She netted four times in her side’s opener against Madagascar, got another in a 1-1 draw with Zambia and then claimed a hat-trick in a 3-3 stalemate with Malawi.
That was enough to see Zimbabwe into the semifinals and Makore was on target again in a 4-0 victory over East African guest nation Kenya.
She made sure she scored in every game with a goal in the final against South Africa, but Zimbabwe lost 2-1.
Makore remains a leading forward today and is currently with Black Rhinos Queens at the 2021 TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League | COSAFA Qualifiers in Durban, where she has helped her side to a semifinal meeting with Double Action of Botswana on Thursday.
2018 – LINDA MOTLHALO (SOUTH AFRICA) – 4 GOALS
Midfielder Motlhalo is not necessarily known for her goals, though her excellent technique lends itself to accuracy in the box.
But she led the way at the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship in what was an excellent field with not much to choose between the leading sides.
She scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 win over Malawi in the first round, and got another in the semifinals as Banyana edged Uganda 2-0. That set up a final meeting with Cameroon, where South Africa triumphed 2-1.
Motlhalo has played in the United States, China and now Sweden, where she turns out for top-flight side Djurgardens.
2019 – RACHEAL NACHULA (ZAMBIA) – 10 GOALS
Nachula was on fire for Zambia at the 2019 COSAFA Women’s Championship, setting the tone with eight goals in their opening game as they beat Mauritius 15-0.
She grabbed two more in the semifinals against Botswana as Zambia made the final for the first time, though they eventually lost 1-0 to South Africa.
Nachula remains a leading forward for the national team, though she missed the recent Olympic Games with injury. She most recently played in Spain with Zaragoza and is a former sprinter.
2020 – SIBULELE HOLWENI (SOUTH AFRICA) – 8 GOALS
South Africa claimed the title again at the 2020 COSAFA Women’s Championship, though this time without many of their established stars.
But that allowed new names to emerge and one of those was forward Holweni, who caught the eye with her clinical touch in the box.
After scoring in a 5-0 win over Eswatini, she grabbed five goals in a 7-0 victory over Comoros.
She continued that form in the knockout stages with goals against Malawi and Botswana respectively in the semifinals and final.
Holweni, who is still only 20, plays for the University of the Western Cape.