Cosafa Under-20 on track

Organisers of the COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championships said this week they were happy with preparations for the annual tournament, scheduled for Lesotho in December.

Zimbabwean stars have come from COSAFA Tourney
Zimbabwean stars have come from COSAFA Tourney

The tournament may be months away, but spokesperson Lynda Greeff said preparations had already begun and teams that include perennial campaigners Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa had confirmed their participation before last week’s deadline.

“South Africa and Namibia have become the latest nations to confirm their participation at the COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championships, to be held in Lesotho from December 3-14,” said Greeff.

The duo submitted their decision to participate on Friday, the deadline for countries to confirm they will take part in the prestigious junior tournament, one of the leading age-group events on the continent.

The Football Association of Malawi (FAM) had also tentatively expressed their desire to compete, but the final decision had still to be ratified by the FAM executive.

The Comoros Islands and Mauritius were the only countries from the COSAFA region yet to confirm their participation. Should the two island nations decide against competing, East African side Kenya have requested to be allowed to send a team to complete the field.

Earlier, hosts Lesotho, Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe all submitted their entries. The draw for the first round group stages at the competition has also been confirmed for Maseru on Friday, October 11.

Zambia are the current holders of the title, having triumphed in the previous event staged in Botswana in 2011.

“This year’s tournament will be played across two venues – Maseru and Mafeteng – with a round-robin group stage featuring four pools and the top team in each group will advance to the semi-finals, after which the tournament switches to a knockout format,” said Greeff.

The COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championship has been played in various guises since 1983, with Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa being the dominant forces. A number of the region’s top stars, including Zimbabwe’s Knowledge Musona, have cut their teeth at the tournament, which has served as an excellent stepping-stone from junior football into the professional ranks.

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