Blatter To Grace Cosafa Tournament At Rufaro Stadium

There is no doubt that the attention of the football world will be on this tournament with the appearance of Fifa president Joseph Sepp
Blatter the centre of attention.

Rarely has Blatter been seen at such tournaments and his appearance at Rufaro Stadium Monday will be the talking point of the football
fraternity for time to come.

Blatter has brought back the gloss that had been taken off the competition by the withdrawal of Angola, Mauritius, Seychelles, the
Comoros, Swaziland, Namibia, and Madagascar for various reasons.

With the world soccer body having committed itself to bankrolling the contest, the question that is now being asked over and over again is
whether Zimbabwe’s Mighty Warriors will be able to stop the South Africa’s Banyana Banyana juggernaut from a fourth consecutive title.

The South Africans have won all the Cosafa tournaments held up to date and have had the added honour of reducing the Mighty Warriors to
bridesmaid when the two met in the final in 2002 when Zimbabwe hosted the finals.

But Mighty Warriors coach, Rosemary Mugadza says that is now history and the Mighty Warriors are ready to rock and roll over the South
Africans.

There is evolution in the game of football and the Mighty Warriors who quick start their campaign on Saturday with a game against Lesotho,
have transformed themselves into a new entity. They have already qualified for the All Africa Games to be held in Mozambique in
September and in Rudo Neshamba they have a match winning striker.

But one player cannot win a game and Mugadza will also count on the seasoned Marjory Nyaumwe, Eunice Chibanda, Nokuthula Ndlovu, and
Emmaculate Msipa, amongst other new rising stars.

But before dreaming of the title, the Mighty Warriors, though, have to clear the early hurdles, the first of which is to beat Lesotho on
Saturday the same day Mozambique play Malawi at the same venue.

The South Africans, though, remain the favourites for the crown on the backdrop of their record in the tournament as well as in African
football. They have won the competition on four occasions in 2002, 2006, and 2008, and are hoping for a fourth consecutive title. If that
happens, they will give them the honour of keeping the original trophy forever.

International football dictates that a team that wins any competition for successive competitions have the right to keep that trophy
forever, and a replacement is made.

The South Africans also go into this competition having beaten the Mighty Warriors twice, 4-0 in South Africa and 2-0 in the return leg
at the National Sports Stadium on December 22.

That should give them the edge over the Mighty Warriors but the South Africans on their part also have to negotiate a first round group that
includes Zambia,Botswana, and Tanzania who although not in the Cosafa grouping are participating following an invitation from the Cosafa
authorities.

While the Mighty Warriors and the South Africans are heavily fancied to meet in the final, the multi volumed football history book is
littered with surprises that it might not be a surprise to see other teams in the final. And more importantly, the strength of the
Tanzanians is not known.

The top two teams from each group qualify for the semi finals to be staged on July 7 with the final set for July 9. So, let the battle
begin and the best team win.