The draw for the TotalEnergies U-17 Africa Cup of Nations | COSAFA Qualifier at the Region 5 Youth Games Lilongwe 2022 took place on Friday as teams in Southern Africa gear up for battle in Malawi from December 2-11.
COSAFA will stage the youth football events at the Region 5 Youth Games, which also includes a Girls event, and the Boys’ football competition will have extra significance as it doubles up as the regional qualifier for the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations Algeria 2022 continental finals.
Those finals have been expanded from eight to 12 teams, which means COSAFA will have two representatives in north Africa. They will be the two finalists in Malawi, so it is all to play for.
Group A in the COSAFA Qualifier contains Malawi, Botswana and Namibia in what is likely to be a fiercely contested battle for top spot.
Group B is made up of Angola, South Africa and Mauritius, who are back competing for the first time since 2019 having had to sit out the last few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, Group C contains Zambia, Mozambique and Seychelles, another pool that looks tough to call.
The three group winners and best-placed runner-up will advance to the semifinals of the tournament.
The previous edition of the boys’ competition was played just last year in Maseru, Lesotho, where Angola claimed the trophy with a 2-1 victory over Zambia in the final.
South Africa lead the way with three titles overall, followed by Zambia and Angola with two. But Malawi (2001), Namibia (2016) and Zimbabwe (2007) have also lifted the title, which has generally been shared around.
The 2022 TotalEnergies U-17 Africa Cup of Nations | COSAFA Qualifier Draw
COSAFA U17 GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP, MALAWI 2022
The Girls tournament is a shoot-out for the regional crown only, but that comes with considerable gravitas.
There are five teams that have entered the COSAFA U17 Girls Championship, with the competition played in a round-robin format, which does not necessitate a draw.
The teams to compete are Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, and Zambia.
The Girls’ event last year was won by Zambia as they beat Botswana 4-0 in the decider.
That was the first time a COSAFA nation had lifted the Girls trophy with both previous official COSAFA Girl’s Under-17 Championships having been won by guest nations – Uganda in 2019 and Tanzania in 2020.
COSAFA has put a big focus on youth development in recent years and has been lauded by FIFA and CAF for their work in women’s football in particular.
These two tournaments will be another giant step forward in providing youngsters in the region with the opportunity for an introduction to international football, and perhaps the start of stellar careers for the nations across all age groups.
It also follows hot on the heels of the recent CAF African Schools Football Championship | COSAFA Qualifier that was also held in Lilongwe and ended on Monday.