The draw for the COSAFA Boys Under-17 Championship that will be played at the Maseru 2020 Region 5 Youth Games was conducted at the Manthabiseng Convention Centre on Friday evening, with one pool in particular looking like a Group of Death.
The tournament will be played from December 1-10, and following the late withdrawal of Mozambique, there has been a change in format.
Instead of the originally scheduled three pools, there will now be two, each containing five teams. The countries will contest matches in a round-robin format, with the top two nations in each pool advancing to the semifinals.
Hosts Lesotho headline Group A as the top seeds, with Zambia, Eswatini, Mauritius and Madagascar also in the pool.
Zambia were losing finalists in the 2020 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship and will be eager to go one better this time round.
Group B has a number of teams who will have eyes on the gold medal and believe they will be in the running for the final.
Defending COSAFA champions South Africa are the seeded team, with Angola, Malawi, Botswana and Seychelles the other nations in the pool.
Angola were champions in 2018, while Malawi are also past winners when they lifted the trophy back in 2001. It is certainly a tough pool to call and will be fiercely contested.
The COSAFA Girls Under-17 Championship will be played with just four teams after a number of nations also withdrew their teams later for a variety of reasons.
Botswana, Mauritius, South Africa and Zambia will play in a single group as a round-robin, with the top two advancing to the final.
There will be a new champion crowned this year after East African guest nations Uganda and Tanzania won the first two editions of the competition in 2019 and 2020.
“It is disappointing that only four countries have registered their participation. As a region we need to do better if we are to grow the women’s game,” COSAFA General Secretary Sue Destombes said.
“It is, of course, acknowledged that it has been a difficult 18 months in terms of the lack of action due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however these Region 5 Games have come at an ideal time to kick-start a return to play.”
COSAFA BOYS UNDER-17 CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW
COSAFA GIRLS UNDER-17 CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP STAGE TEAMS