Top keepers vie for COSAFA Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year Award

Goals win games, they say, but goalkeepers can be match-winners too and through history top sides have generally had an excellent and reliable ‘number one’ between the sticks.

It goes well beyond just saving shots, a keeper needs to be an excellent communicator and organiser, be able to read the play and anticipate danger, and be brave under fight, both from the ball and opponents.

The three players who have been nominated for Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year at the inaugural COSAFA Awards on May 9 have all proven they have those attributes and would be worthy winners in their own right.

Mamelodi Sundowns and South Africa keeper Andile Dlamini enjoyed huge success with her club, leading them to the Super League title on the domestic front, the COSAFA Women’s Champions League trophy and, ultimately, the CAF Women’s Champions League for a second time.

She conceded only one goal across both Champions League competitions and none at the continental finals in the Ivory Coast, keeping out the best of the rest on the African continent.

She did not play at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup as Kaylin Swart was preferred by national coach Desiree Ellis but helped the team in the qualifiers for both the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

It was a bumper year for Ntopwa FC and Malawi keeper Mercy Sikelo, who played a leading role as her club side claimed the FAM Women’s Championship with a penalty shoot-out win over Ascent Academy, in which Sikelo saved the decisive kick.

She was hugely consistent through the competition, which led inevitably to national team honours too.

She went on to help Malawi claim a maiden COSAFA Women’s Championship crown with a 2-1 victory over holders Zambia in the final. She also played her part in the historic 4-3 win over hosts South Africa in the group stages.

JvW FC and South Africa keeper Swart played all four games for South Africa at the Women’s World Cup but did concede two goals in every match.

However, the quality of the opposition must be taken into account as she came up against some of the world’s leading forwards on the biggest stage of all.

She helped South Africa qualify for the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations finals as the first-choice keeper in the team and had a solid year with her South African club JvW, who finished third in the domestic league.

The winner will be announced at a gala awards ceremony in Johannesburg on May 9, with a panel of judges from across the region having assessed their performances for the period of January 1 to December 31, 2023.

The judging panel from across the 14 member nations that make up COSAFA are renowned for their knowledge of Southern African football and are as follows:

Houssamidine Ben Ahmed (Comoros), Ivan Capuepue (Angola), Rob Delport (South Africa), Gerard Govinden (Seychelles), Peter Kanjere (Malawi), Jesse Kauraisa (Namibia), Kagiso Kgaogano (Botswana), Sibusiso Masilela (Eswatini), Sandra Mwila (Zambia), Boitelo Radebe (Lesotho), Heriniaina Samson (Madagascar), Benoit Thomas (Mauritius), Steve Vickers (Zimbabwe) and Raimundo Zandamela (Mozambique).