The HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship is a chance to showcase the incredible talent in the Southern African region by providing players with the platform to display their skill and perhaps move on to bigger things.
It is certainly a competition that has met its aim and when the 2022 edition is staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from August 31-September 11, we will see more stars born and the next generation of talent come to the fore.
We take a look back at the last five footballers to have won Player of the Tournament and where they are now in their careers.
THEMBI KGATLANA (SOUTH AFRICA)
South Africa played in Zimbabwe for the 2017 edition after the competition had a six-year hiatus, and were crowned champions.
It was a speedy, skilful forward who caught the eye as Kgatlana tore up the pitch and fired Banyana to the title.
Since then she has continued her incredible rise, scoring a magnificent goal against Spain at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and continues to be a key part of the South African team.
She is currently playing for top Spanish side Atletico Madrid, having previously turned out for Houston Dash, Beijing BG Phoenix in China, Benfica in Portugal and Eibar in Spain.
She was also named CAF African Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2018 among a host of individual awards. She is truly one of the special talents in the African game.
GENEVIEVE NGO (CAMEROON)
Cameroon were guests for the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay and brought their array of stars, which included brilliant midfielder Ngo.
They reached the final but came unstuck against South Africa in a thrilling contest that will live long in the memory for the quality of the football on display from both sides.
She has continued to shine and in 2020/21 was named the best player in the Israeli league, where she still plays for Maccabi Kiryat-Gat.
The 29-year-old led the team to the league and cup double and was recognised for her efforts, having also been the leading scorer for her team.
HELLEN MUBANGA (ZAMBIA)
Zambia have never lifted the COSAFA Women’s Championship title but came mighty close in 2019 when they were edged 1-0 by South Africa in the final in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Mubanga contributed three goals to that cause, but it was her creativity that shone through as she laid chances on a plate for the life of 10-goal hero Racheal Nachula.
After that she went on to play in Spain for Zaragoza, and most was part of the Zambian side that shone at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
She suffered a knee injury that kept her out of most of last season, but at just 27 years of age she still has plenty to give, though she was also the oldest of the Zambians in Japan.
HILDAH MAGAIA (SOUTH AFRICA)
Magaia scored four goals at the 2020 COSAFA Women’s Championship as South Africa claimed a fourth title in succession, but was also at the heart of all the good work from the hosts.
She led the forward line superbly and proved a handful for all defences, creating opportunities for others with her intelligence and skill.
That performance won her a move to Moron in Sweden, where she excelled with 12 goals in 19 starts last season.
Her two goals in the final of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations won the title for South Africa as they beat Morocco and showed what a clinical finisher she is.
AMINA BILALI (TANZANIA)
Bilali was a talismanic figure for Tanzania as they claimed the COSAFA WOMEN’S Championship crown in 2021, behind all the good work of her side as they romped to the title.
She has continued to be a leading figure for the team and captain’s the side, as well as being a leading player for Yanga Princesses, where she was named Women’s Premier League Player of the Year in 2021.
This will be her third COSAFA Women’s Championship having also appeared in 2020 and the midfielder will be looking for back-to-back titles.