MPOPOMA High School’s Thando Sibanda emerged as the top goal scorer in the 2018 edition of the annual COPA Coca-Cola national Under-15 girls’ competition in Zvishavane last weekend after she banged in 10 goals.
Courtesy of her exploits in front of goal, the Evans Netha-mentored side, stormed into the girls’ final where they, however, went down 2-1 at the hands of Nyamauru of Manicaland province.
In the final match, Mpopoma High School got their goal through Priscilla Marikoso right on the death of the game but it was rather a little too late as they settled for runners-up position.
“It was a good achievement for Thando Sibanda and as a school we are happy for her. It’s unfortunate that we lost in the final. We actually lost to a better team which gave us a chance to play our normal game,” said Mpopoma High School sports master James Rugwevera.
The Bulawayo girls had overcome Chenhuta High from Mashonaland East 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after they had played to a goalless draw in regulation time in the semi-finals.
It was Mpopoma’s first appearance in the final of the schools’ premier football tournament.
Mpopoma topped Group D, beating Seke High from Harare 3-0 in the opening game and Birivenge of Masvingo 5-0.
The Bulawayo provincial champions went on to hammer Simbo of Matabeleland North 6-0 in the quarter-finals before dispatching Chenhuta in the semi-finals.
In the boys’ Under-15 final Pamushana High School picked their second Copa Coca-Cola title after beating Guinea Fowl 2-0.
Despite the drama that surrounded this year’s edition of the Copa Coca-Cola football tournament the sponsors remain optimistic of the future after celebrating the 30th anniversary of the annual event which ended on Saturday in Zvishavane.
This year marked the 30th edition of the country’s biggest schools football tournament, which now caters for Under-15 boys and girls.
However, it was overshadowed by concerns over the vetting system used by the National Association of Secondary Schools Heads, which includes physical vetting and saw some of the schools playing with depleted teams.
In the boys section, eventual winners Pamushana progressed to the finals after they were awarded their abandoned semi-final against Prince Edward which followed a hotly disputed goal towards the end of the match.
Coca-Cola senior brand manager Vee Chibanda said their goal was to promote talent in the country and was impressed to see new champions in the girls’ section after five years of Chidyamakono’s dominance.
“As the sponsor, our passion is to grow talent and we stand guided by Nash. We believe they are the experts in this, the referees and everybody else. All we do is promote sport and we hope we will continue to grow talent in Zimbabwe.
“I am so happy to see the level of talent that was showcased. The football was great, they were playing like professionals which was really great. And also today we managed to see another school girls’ team winning. So that was good, at least it will encourage other schools. We are geared for the next decade,” Chibanda said.