The 12 teams that will compete in the 2023 COSAFA Cup in Durban from July 5-16 have been confirmed with the draw for the first round groups to be held in Johannesburg on Friday at 13h00 CAT (11h00 GMT).
A new format for this year will see the teams drawn into three groups of four sides, with the top side in each pool advancing to the semifinals along with the best-placed runner-up.
Hosts South Africa will be the seeded team in Group A, while defending champions Zambia will be the lead side in Group B. Mozambique, by virtue of their CAF ranking, are the seeded side in Group C.
The other nine teams in this year’s competition are Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia and Seychelles.
During the draw, Angola, Namibia and Malawi will be in Pot 1 as the next highest ranked teams and each placed in one of the pools.
The remaining six sides will then be added to the groups in the sequence in which they are drawn out.
Media wishing to attend the draw may contact email@example.com for more information.
The draw will follow COSAFA’s Annual General Meeting that will be held at the Sandton Sun in Johannesburg.
The 2023 COSAFA Cup will give vital game-time for players and coaches to teams still in the qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals and provide much-needed international exposure for those out of the running.
The pool games will be played from July 5-12, with the semifinals on July 14 and the final and third-place play-off to be staged at the King Zwelithini Stadium two days later.
It is a departure from the previous format in which there were two groups of four teams and another six sides entered at the quarterfinal stage. There will also be no Plate competition this year.
The new format ensures each country will play a minimum of three games up to a maximum of five over the course of the competition. It also allows for an extra days’ rest between most pool games, a boost for player welfare.
The 21 previous editions of the COSAFA Cup have seen some great performances and incredible games that have been written into the folklore of Southern African football, but only five nations can claim to have lifted the coveted trophy.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are locked together on six wins each, with South Africa (five), Angola (three) and Namibia (one) the only other teams to claim regional glory.
Mozambique, Malawi, and Botswana have all been finalists twice, but ended up on the losing side on both occasions. Lesotho (2000) are the only other COSAFA team to reach the decider, with Senegal the first guest nation to do so in 2021.