Uganda have been crowned champions of the inaugural 2019 COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over South Africa in the final at the St Francois Xavier Stadium in Port Louis, Mauritius on Sunday.
The East African guest nation become just the second visiting team to lift a COSAFA title after Tanzania did likewise in the 2019 COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship that was played in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa in August.
It was a tightly contested final in which the Ugandans shaded the chances, but a fitting end to what has been a magnificent tournament in which 158 goals were scored in only 16 matches.
That provided rich entertainment for the enthusiastic crowd, but also vital experience for the players at what is an important introduction to international football in this age-group.
Uganda opened the scoring through Fauzia Najjemba on 56 minutes as she burst between two defenders after some hesitant South African defending to slot the ball past goalkeeper Karabo Mohale.
It was a 13th goal of the tournament for the prolific forward, but there was no element of luck involved as she showed an expert technique to lift the ball past the on-rushing keeper.
The South Africans were level when Nabeelah Galant’s persistence down the right flank saw her cross for substitute Tiffany Kortjie to head home and make it 1-1.
But the East Africans regained the lead with five minutes remaining as Najjemba’s cross was turned home by the prolific Juliet Nalukenge with an expert finish.
Zambia claimed the bronze medal with a comprehensive 3-0 success over Botswana as they got reward for a fine tournament.
They took the lead on 27 minutes when Precious Nsama opened the scoring with her first of the competition, but it took until past the hour-mark for them to double that advantage.
Shelly Masumo has been a quality performer throughout and made the game safe with a second, before Maweta Chilenga added the cherry on top with a third with four minutes remaining.
South African captain Jessica Wade was named Player of the Tournament for her expert all-round displays that highlight her quality as a real star of the future in the women’s game.
Nalukenge won the Golden Boot prize with an astonishing 18 goals scored in the five games she played, while her teammate Daphine Nyayenga won the Golden Glove for her exploits between the posts.
The next tournament for the region will be the COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship that will be staged in Blantyre, Malawi from October 11-20.
That will be followed by the COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship in Zambia from December 4-15, the last of a record six tournament’s hosted by COSAFA in 2019.
Botswana 0 Zambia 3 (Nsama 27′, Masumo 63′, Chilenga 86′)
Uganda 2 (Najjemba 56’, Nalukenge 86’) South Africa 1 (Kortjie 74’)
Matches Played: 16
Goals scored: 158
Biggest victory: South Africa 28 Seychelles 0 (Group B, September 21)
Most goals in a game: 28 – South Africa 28 Seychelles 0 (Group B, September 21)
18 goals – Juliet Nalukenge (Uganda)
13 – Fauzia Najjemba (Uganda)
10 – Oyisa Marhasi (South Africa)
9 – Margret Kunihira (Uganda)
7 – Tiffany Kortjie (South Africa), Florence Kasonde (Zambia)
6 – Bofelo Rantsho (Botswana), Alinah Lalasoa (Madagascar)
5 – Pearl Sikwane (Botswana), Jessica Wade (South Africa), Shelly Masumo (Zambia)
4 – Cindy Banda, Maweta Chilenga (both Zambia)
3 – Lydia Razanajohary, Marie Raveloarisoa (both Madagascar), Tiyana Carollissen, Nabeelah Galant, Sonika Mzingeli, Nelly Gamede (all South Africa), Shakira Nyinagahirwa (Uganda), Tisilile Lungu (Zambia)
2 – Yaone Modise, Christinah Monyatsi, Lorato Motlogelwa (all Botswana), Jenny Randriamialimanantsoa (Madagascar), Jerusha Ramasawmy (Mauritius), Sonika Mzingeli, Christy Noble (both South Africa), Comfort Selemani (Zambia)
1 – Tlhompho Gabana, Kaone Mbongwe, Serati Modisenyane (all Botswana), Moinahedji Ali (Comoros), Iloala Aniera, Laurencia Raheriarisoa, Charline Rondromalala (Madagascar), Marie Quirin, Marie Verloppe (both Mauritius), Yolanda Ndluli, Shakira O’Malley, Hlela Philisani (all South Africa), Stella Musibika, Daphine Nyayenga, Gillian Akadinda (all Uganda), Esther Banda, Precious Nsama (both Zambia)
Own goal – Soukaina Maenfou (Comoros)