Cosafa Tourney: Will we get new stars?

The Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championship has in the past few years turned into a breeding ground for Zimbabwean talent.

Ovidy Karuru
Ovidy Karuru

Not that they were all virtually unknown before taking part, but great stars like Tinashe Nengomasha, Onismor Bhasera, Knowledge Musona, Ovidy Karuru, Tapuwa Kapini and Khama Billiat all rose to international stardom after they participated in this developmental competition.

So, when the draw for the 2013 edition of the regional tournament was held at the weekend, many were left wondering if the December 3-14 football showcase would bring to the fore any future Warriors stars. Without doubt, Zimbabwe will be among the favourites to lift the trophy. The Young Warriors have been of the most successful teams in the history of the competition, with six wins since the tournament began in 1983. In 2007 they beat hosts South Africa 3-0 to record a comprehensive final win.

Having surprisingly suffered a first round exit in the last edition in 2011 after they failed to win a match in their pool, which included Angola, Namibia and Madagascar, the challenge cannot be any bigger for them.

The draw, conducted by COSAFA competitions committee chairperson Timothy Shongwe and Lesotho national team coach Leslie Notsi in Maseru on Sunday put Zimbabwe in Group D with lightweights Botswana and Swaziland. The first matches of the tournament will be played in Maseru on December 3, with Botswana’s clash against Swaziland the first of a triple-header that will end with Lesotho taking on Comoros.

Zimbabwe will meet Swaziland in their Group D opener in Maseru on December 4, as the nations play each other in a round-robin format in the first stage, with the top team in each pool advancing to the semi-finals.

Because there are only three teams in Groups B and D, the top two sides in these groups will each play one additional match crossing over between B and D. The top side in Group B will play the second-placed team in D and vice-versa.

Thereafter, the top team in each of the groups will qualify to the semi-finals, slated for December 12 and the final two days later on December in Maseru. The COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championship has been played in various guises since 1983, with Zambia having won the most titles – 10.

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