Zimbabwe back to compete in regional championship

Best finish: Winners (2011)
FIFA Ranking: 125
CAF Ranking: 19
Last four COSAFA tournaments:
2017 – Runners-Up
2018 – Group Stages
2019 – Third
2020 – Group Stages
2021 – Group Stages
2022 – FIFA suspension

Women’s football in Zimbabwe saw a resurgence a little over a decade ago after the side won the Southern African championship in 2011 and also qualified for the Olympic Games football tournament in Brazil in 2016.

Zimbabwe have always been a competitive side and finally broke their duck in the competition with victory in 2011, which ended South Africa’s fine run of success in the tournament.

They reached the final in the inaugural competition in 2002 but lost to South Africa 2-1 in the decider in Harare. They had stormed into the decider with four straight wins in which they scored a staggering 36 goals, including a then competition record 15-0 victory over Lesotho in their opener.

They finished top of their pool again in 2006 after two matches against their only pool opponent, Angola, but came unstuck in the semifinals this time with a 4-1 loss to South Africa. They were beaten to third place by Zambia when they went down 2-1 in the bronze medal match.

The 2008 championship in Angola provided little joy, but they finally lifted the trophy in 2011 on home soil when they proved a dominant force again and beat South Africa 1-0 in the final.

They could not quite repeat that feat in Bulawayo in 2017 as they took the best runner-up spot in their pool with victory over Madagascar (4-0) and draws with Zambia (1-1) and Malawi (3-3), before walloping East African guest nation Kenya 4-0 in the semifinals.

That set up a final against old foes South Africa, but Zimbabwe finished on the losing side by a 2-1 scoreline.

In 2018 the side failed to make it out of their pool despite two wins over Eswatini (3-0) and Namibia (1-0), their fate sealed by a 2-1 loss to East African guest nation Uganda.

They raced through the pool stages in 2019 with wins over Angola (4-1), Mozambique (4-0) and Eswatini (7-0), but South Africa once again proved their nemesis in the semifinals as Zimbabwe lost 3-1.

They did claim the bronze medal though with a 3-0 success over Botswana in the third-place play-off.

The side unexpectedly battled in 2020, losing both of their pool games 1-0 to Tanzania and Botswana, and again in 2021 when they did they not make it past the group stages.

The country did not compete in the 2022 event as they were under a FIFA suspension.